Minnesota has worked to increase access to a free breakfast at schools in recent years and lawmakers are being asked to consider expanding it further.

Minnesota ranks 32nd in the nation in terms of breakfasts served per capita, according to testimony from the Food Research Action Council (FRAC) during a hearing Thursday with the House Education Finance Committee. FRAC suggests Minnesota explore adopting breakfast reimbursements for school sites that use ‘breakfast after the bell’ models.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) shared school nutrition sponsors in the state (sites that host a nutrition program under the USDA guidelines) provided roughly 100 million lunches each year. Those same sponsors serve about 37 million school breakfasts each year.

A testifier from Children’s Hospitals spoke about the health benefits to children who have a healthy breakfast. Second Harvest Heartland, the state’s largest food shelf, echoed these sentiments and suggested that a state-sponsored breakfast after the bell program would go a long way in eliminating childhood hunger.

Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while low in added sugar can boost their attention span, concentration, and memory — which they need to learn in school.

The House Education Finance Committee on Thursday will hear a bill that would provide funding sufficient to pay for all kids to eat a free breakfast after the bell in schools with more than 33 percent Free and Reduced (FRE) populations.