House needs to pass school meals bill
As a retired Anchorage School District teacher, I know how important it is for students to get off to a good start with a healthy, balanced breakfast each day. Children have a better chance of staying healthy with nutritionally sound meals. Children pay attention better and learn best when they are not hungry.
Now my work at the Chugiak-Eagle River Food Pantry has opened my eyes to the continuing rise in the numbers of local needy families we serve. More and more families need food assistance each month.
The federal government helps reduce the cost of school meals for children but does not cover the entire cost of a breakfast program. Currently the difference between the cost of school meals and the reimbursement provided by the federal government must be picked up by local school districts. Alaska now has about 7,000 low income children who can’t get a free or lower prize breakfast at school because their school doesn’t participate in the school breakfast program.
Alaska is one of only nine states not supporting school meals in some way either by mandate or financial assistance. In the 2011 legislative session, the Alaska Senate passed SB 3 to help provide food for children. SB 3 would provide state funds to supplement federal money to make up $0.35 for each breakfast and $0.15 for each lunch. We hope the Alaska House considers this bill this term. It will be our children who benefit if we make this happen this year.
~ John Butler
Chugiak-Eagle River Food Pantry