ANCHORAGE, Alaska—We've all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it's often the most overlooked.
Only 75 percent of schools in the state offer breakfast, but a new bill this upcoming legislative session could mean a better start to the day for a lot of kids.
For thousands of kids in the state, school lunch is the only meal they'll eat all day. It's something they depend on, and of course notice when they can't get it.
Several organizations brought the idea of healthier school meals to state Sen. Bill Wielechowski, pointing to studies that show hungry kids are more likely to get in trouble and are more prone to illness.
“Think of yourself when you don't have breakfast. By 10 a.m. you can't concentrate and you are kind of antsy (about) your next meal. Now if that's a kid in the classroom, how much are they going to learn that morning,” said Susannah Morgan with the Food Bank of Alaska.
Providing breakfast could mean part-time staff become full time, meaning higher salaries and benefits, but Morgan points out the reimbursement would make up for some of that loss.
“What we are trying to do is anything that is about getting more food to kids, whether it's us or not, however we can make that happen,” she said.
The Food Bank of Alaska has backed similar legislation for the past four years, but it's failed every time.
The match would add 35 cents per breakfast and 15 cents per lunch, that's on top of federal funds already provided to schools.
The plan would cost the state $1 million to $2 million each year.
“So what that would do is the schools would do with it what they choose. Some schools may choose to provide healthier meals for their kids, some schools may choose to start providing meals to their kids,” Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat, said.
The idea is to encourage schools to add breakfast or healthier lunch options, which they say would also put concentration and learning on the menu.
Last year the bill made it through the Senate, but failed in the House Finance Committee at the end of the session.
Wielechowski says he expects the bill to have enough momentum from last year to make it through this time around.