Nevada Senate passes bill to expand school breakfast

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada senators passed a bill Thursday that would require more schools with a high population of low-income students to serve breakfast after classes begin.

Senators voted 17-2 to approve SB503, which would require breakfast be served in schools where 70 percent of students or more are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The bill now heads to the Assembly.

"Senate Bill 503 ensures our children who need to be fed to learn, have the opportunity to do so," Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer said.

First lady Kathleen Sandoval testified in favor of the measure, saying a consistent breakfast will help students concentrate on their classes rather than their hunger. She argued that serving it after the bell, rather than before the school day begins, would ensure students could participate even if they arrive late or just before classes start.

State officials said 103 elementary schools now serve breakfast, but the bill could add another 120 to the program.

The governor's budget calls for $2 million in state money so schools can start the program, although state agriculture officials said most of the nearly $16 million annual cost of serving breakfast would be covered by federal reimbursements. The neediest schools would get the state grants first.

Bill opponents included Republican Sen. James Settelmeyer, who said he believed parents needed to take responsibility for ensuring their children are fed, and Republican Sen. Don Gustavson, who opposed the timing of the program.

"I do not believe that we should be taking valuable teaching time away from the students so they can eat," Gustavson said. "They should do this before the bell, not after the bell."

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