augusta free press news

Governor McAuliffe announces increased support for school breakfast in new state budget

Governor-McAuliffeDuring the inaugural Virginia Out-of-School Nutrition Summit, hosted by First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and the Virginia Alliance of YMCAs, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the inclusion of increased funding for school breakfast programs in his proposed budget. A budget amendment of $537,000 was passed in the prior legislative session, which is funding an extra $.05 per breakfast served at 244 schools this school year. The Governor will seek a total of $1,074,000 in his proposed biennial budget in order to meet unmet demand and move the Commonwealth closer to ending childhood hunger.

“Dorothy and I are excited that last year’s budget is helping 244 schools expand their breakfast programs, but we had an additional 310 schools seek funding that we weren’t able to support,” said Governor McAuliffe.“We have schools all over the Commonwealth that are thinking outside the box and breaking down barriers to give more kids the fuel they need at the start of the day. We need to support their work because we can’t build the workforce needed to lead Virginia into an era of global economic competitiveness and protect our national security interests if 300,000 Virginia children are going to school hungry.”

The funding will again encourage the adoption of alternative service models that allow for breakfast consumption after the school bell rings. As Mrs. McAuliffe notes, these innovative models are necessary because stigma and tight school schedules are preventing kids who need breakfast from accessing it. On average, only 53 percent of Virginia students participating in free or reduced price lunch participated in school breakfast in 2014.

“Kids can’t be hungry to learn if they are just plain hungry,” said Mrs. McAuliffe. “This has been proven by research connecting school breakfast participation to improved school attendance and math test scores, but we also are hearing it from administrators across the Commonwealth who have embraced alternative models. They are seeing fewer discipline referrals, better learning environments, and better concentration from students after making the change. It’s a win-win.”

First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe has dedicated herself to ending childhood hunger in Virginia, identifying food security and nutrition as key elements necessary for educational success and building healthy communities. School breakfast expansion is one key strategy in that mission.