(March 13) – The House gave voice-vote approval today to a bill to help make sure Colorado schoolkids get a good breakfast.

Breakfast After the Bell, a k a HB13-1006 by Reps. Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) and Tony Exum Sr. (D-Colorado Springs), would phase in a requirement that schools where at least 70 percent of the students qualify for federal free or reduced-cost lunch will serve breakfast to all students after the official start of school.

Hungry children don’t learn as well as their better-fed peers, but many students who qualify for before-school breakfasts don’t get to school in time to eat, some of them because they are ashamed of the stigma attached to showing up hungry before school.

Rep. Moreno said breakfast after the bell gives students from low-income families an equal chance to learn and succeed. He noted that in 2010, when the Adams 14 School District went from school breakfast before the bell to an after-the-bell meal, the participation rate went from 30 percent to 98 percent.

“What they’ve seen is behavior problems reduced,” he told the House. “They’ve seen nursing visits go down.”

The sponsors said that breakfast could be served during attendance-taking and announcements, and that schools that have already initiated Breakfast After the Bell had been able to do it with no reduction in instruction time.

The vast majority of the cost of the program would be paid for under an existing federal program.

“The goal is to enhance the learning environment in those classrooms,” Rep. Exum told the House.

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