The House Education Committee voted Thursday to advance House Bill 1295 requiring certain schools to provide students with breakfast after the beginning of the school day. It passed out of committee on a vote of 17-4. Watch the hearing here.
The “Breakfast After the Bell” program would be implemented starting in the 2016-17 school year at schools where at least 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Before members passed the bill, they debated an amendment that would have reduced the amount of refined sugar allowed in breakfast foods from the current 35 percent to 25 percent.
Republican Rep. Michelle Caldier of Port Orchard sponsored the amendment, saying that some doughnuts fall under the current federal requirements of 35 percent.
“I did a little bit of research and found that quite a few of sugary snacks include 31 percent by weight,” she said. “I’m a dentist by trade and I have a huge problem with the amount of sugary foods that children are eating and the rates of disease in children by obesity.”
Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, supported the amendment. “When I was doing my student teaching, the teacher that I was student teaching under brought doughnuts for the kids to eat first thing in the morning and I had an extremely hard time controlling the kids on that sugar high the rest of the day,” he said.
Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, also spoke in support of the amendment, mentioning a TVW segment on the Breakfast After the Bell program. He said that it showed kids receiving Pop Tarts toward that end and “that’s when it lost me.”
“I think its important to control our processes sugar intake but especially our childrens because they already go through such swings in energy level and we are trying to keep them as low as possible through the day and we want them in the right condition to learn at maximum efficiency,” Magendanz said.
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, said she appreciated the amendment, but it needs more research and could place a burden on schools to determine the amount of sugar in each product.
“Serving our children the healthiest meals is something I definitely would support,” she said. “However I think we need to study this a little further and have remarks from nutritionist.”
Committee chair Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos said that the intent of the amendment was “noble” but there needs to be more discussion and it could be addressed on the House floor.
The amendment was rejected.
Before the final passage of the bill, Republican Rep. Mark Hargrove of Covington said that he did not support the bill and he thought there were better way to feed kids.
“I saw Breakfast After the Bell fully implemented at an elementary school last month with no bill and at no cost to the state so I don’t think there is a need for this bill,” he said.