March 6, 2002
Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
(518) 455-5203
Assembly Passes Bill To Encourage Breakfast
Assemblyman Calls on Senate to Support School Breakfast Program

(Albany, NY) Research studies have demonstrated that federal school breakfast programs lead to improved academic performance and attention-span among low-income children and also help reduce tardiness and absenteeism. A bill (A.7002/S.4308) sponsored by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy, to remove barriers to participation in the school breakfast program has been approved by the New York State Assembly.

In 1993 the legislature recognized the importance of school breakfasts and approved legislation greatly expanding the number of schools offering programs. However, because of scheduling problems, lack of promotion and outreach, and administrative neglect, New York has a low percentage of children participating in the breakfast program compared to the national average.

According to Ortiz, "This situation is counterproductive to the rest of the efforts undertaken by the State and school districts to improve educational standards and performance. My bill will provide a financial incentive to school administrators to remove barriers to breakfast participation and provide an additional tool to ensure that the millions of dollars we spend on improved educational outcomes are used effectively."

This bill authorizes the Commissioner of Education to establish the school breakfast incentive program to provide grants, subject to available appropriations, to eligible school buildings or districts that increase participation in the school breakfast program by removing barriers. The Commissioner will award grants based on the level of increased participation, and removing barriers to participation, including but not limited to enhancing the quality of meals served, conducting public information campaigns and implementing innovative strategies designed to increase participation.

"We need to get this program up and running before school starts next fall so that children can concentrate on math instead of thinking about how hungry they are. I urge the Senate to act on their bill as soon as possible," said Ortiz. The Senate bill is in the Education Committee.

New York State Assembly
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