Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
AUSTIN, Texas —
The number of Texans who have trouble feeding their families has been growing for years, and the issue takes center stage today at the State Capitol. This is the second biennial Texas Food Policy Day. One focus is legislation (SB 376) that aims to increase the number of students accessing free or reduced-priced breakfast.
Right now, that is a huge missed opportunity, according to Texas Food Bank Network CEO Celia Cole.
"Right now, about 2.6 million kids in school are low income," Cole said. "About 75 percent of those kids eat lunch at school, but only about 50 percent of those kids are taking advantage of breakfast."
Cole said the goal is to get up to 1 million more low-income students across Texas eating breakfast at school, because children who do that have been shown to improve their achievement.
"They have better test scores, better attendance, better behavior. So, in addition to being a great tool for fighting hunger and ensuring that kids get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and learn, it's a proven education policy to boost academic achievement," she explained.
In all, around 100 pieces of legislation dealing with food policy have been introduced this session. It is one of the most pressing issues in the state today, Cole noted.
"One in five families in Texas struggles to afford food on a consistent basis, so it's a big issue. We hope the legislature will tackle it with the same urgency it tackles any other big social problem," she said.
Today's events were organized by the Texas Food Policy Roundtable. The coalition's mission is to develop, coordinate and improve the implementation of food policy to address hunger and promote healthy food.