“Connecticut needs to stand up, do the right thing, and feed our children — because hunger hurts,” CEA President Sheila Cohen told participants at today’s second annual Connecticut School Breakfast Summit.
“An equal opportunity for all children is essential, and balancing the scales for the poorest children begins with fulfilling one of our basic needs—food,” she said.
Breakfast is a meal that children often miss, and that schools can relatively easily provide, yet Connecticut ranks last in the nation for the percentage of schools that have a breakfast program.
Cohen said that schools should be taking advantage of federal money that could be used to feed children in Connecticut. “There’s an estimated $22 million in funding available that we don’t currently use,” she said.
Governor Dannel Malloy said that offering school breakfast programs “for all intents and purposes, is free” because of all of the grants available. He said that if more schools offered breakfast, attendance and graduation rates, as well test scores, would go up.
Malloy asked schools not currently offering breakfast programs to explain, school by school, ‘why not?’ “Tell me what’s so hard about having breakfast available to children who need it,” he said.
This past year an additional 59 Connecticut schools started offering breakfast — a big jump over the 28 that started serving breakfast the previous year. The state is moving in the right direction but has a long way to go.
For more information on school breakfast programs in Connecticut and on how to start a program at your school, visit www.ctschoolbreakfast.org.