New Washington law allows hungry students to get 'Breakfast After the Bell'

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The popularity of a program which allows students to eat breakfast in the classroom prompted a new law in Washington.

The law, signed by Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday, would set up a Breakfast After the Bell program by the start of the 2019-20 school year.

The program would offer breakfast to students while they are in the classroom. Schools, where at least 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, are eligible for the program.

The food served through the program must meet federal nutritional standards. Preference also must be given to food that is fresh and grown in Washington.

The bill stated that "thoughtful and evidence-based school food programs are associated with improved outcomes for students including, reduction in tardiness, absenteeism, suspensions, and reported illnesses."

Under the new Breakfast After the Bell law, schools are encouraged to coordinate or launch new farm-to-school initiatives.

"The Breakfast After the Bell bill I signed today will help many schools provide a nutritious breakfast to hungry children who can't get to school early enough for other breakfast programs," Inslee tweeted.

A Breakfast After the Bell program is currently being tested in Highline Public Schools in South King County with positive results.

The program will be evaluated for effectiveness by 2026.