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Education

West Ky. school talks implementation of new legislation adding school time for breakfast

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Paducah Public Schools
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Schools in west Kentucky may extend their breakfast serving times for students as lawmakers remove “barriers to breakfast” from existing state legislation.

Senate Bill 151 aims to extend breakfast time at schools participating in the Federal School Breakfast Program by 15 minutes. The bill will allow students who are late due to uncontrollable reasons to eat breakfast during the first fifteen minutes of instruction time. It passed both chambers of the legislature with bipartisan support and Gov. Andy Beshear signed it into law on Mar. 29.

According to Feeding Kentucky, 19% of children in Kentucky do not have food security. Children who do not habitually eat breakfast are more likely to run into academic hardship including lower test scores and possibly having to repeat a grade. These students also receive more special education services and exhibit poor behavior in the classroom.

Paducah Public Schools’ food services director Lynsi Barnhill says the bill will help increase student performance and wellbeing in her district.

Paducah Public Schools serves “grab and go” breakfasts which allow students to eat their breakfast while in the classroom. Paducah Public Schools is a CEP school which gives its students free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision.

She says, regardless of any legislation, Paducah students will receive breakfast, but the bill would help by preventing the meal from counting against instructional time.

“We are going to serve breakfast universally,” Barnhill said. “We will make sure each student has as much access and opportunity as possible and we are going to continue to do that whether or not they can have extra time in the classroom. Any way that I can take advantage of removing barriers for all students to have access to breakfast, I am more than willing to implement.”

Many schools in west Kentucky already have breakfast programs but students are still arriving late to be fed. Some students often have physical impairments and may suffer even worsened logistical issues such as lack of transportation.

Troy Brock is the director of Pupil Personnel for Paducah Public Schools. He says legislation that is unfunded is difficult to implement but, from a logistical standpoint, Bill 151 will be easy to put into practice.

“From a district standpoint, we’re always trying to be innovative with how we can best serve our students and their families,” Brock said. “Over the past few years we’ve devoted human and financial resources to identifying our community’s most insecure [aspects] – housing, food, physical and emotional health. These needs are often interwoven and not mutually exclusive, so we attack these barriers on multiple fronts simultaneously.”

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