NH Hunger Solutions plays instrumental role in HB82 being signed into law; will provide free breakfasts to low income students

July 30, 2019 – NH Hunger Solutions provided pivotal advocacy and research assistance in securing approval for HB82 which ensures students who are eligible for reduced cost school breakfasts get it at no cost through state and federal funds. HB82 was passed by the Senate on March 7 and signed into law by Governor Sununu July 30.

NH Hunger Solutions’ Elaine Van Dyke was a key advocate behind the legislation, attending all hearings, speaking with legislators and providing  bi-partisan leadership.

The reduced price was formerly $0.30 per meal; advocates said when totaled for an entire school year, this was prohibitive for poor families with multiple kids.

“They often found themselves in the position of having to decide: Do I give them the money for lunch or do I give them the money for breakfast? Usually breakfast fell through the crack,” Van Dyke said.

The program is anticipated to reach about 7,500 students next year. It will be covered mostly by federal reimbursements – about $2 million – and by about $350,000 from the state.

“This bill makes sure all eligible kids will have access to a healthy breakast, fully funding it for low income children in public schools.  By no longer charging low-income families, this will help school districts tackle the growing problem of families’ unpaid lunch and breakfast debt,” Van Dyke said.

NH Hunger Solutions worked with several partners in getting the bill passed including NH Legal Aid; NH New Futures; School Nutrition Association and the American Heart Association. Senator Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth) was an instrumental force behind the bill.

HB82 was introduced in January, 2019.  Nine hearings were held before the bill crossed over from the House to the NH Senate.  This process included review and discussion within the Senate’s education and finance committees.  Van Dyke testified the bill would positively impact local communities because by not having to pay for meals, families would have a little more money to purchase other needed goods and services.

The New Hampshire Senate voted to pass SB 82, which would make it possible through state and federal funds to ensure students who are eligible for reduced price school breakfast are offered breakfast at no cost.

“Every night, 40,000 New Hampshire children go to bed not knowing where their next meal is coming from,” said Sen. Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), prime sponsor of SB 82. “We know breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and a healthy breakfast is key to increasing student academic performance and decreasing disciplinary and emotional problems. Today’s bipartisan vote will help schools provide free breakfast to students in need and make sure every student is able to focus on their studies.”