The number of Washington State children eating school breakfast has soared since the state became the first in the nation earlier this year to provide free meals to all children previously eligible only for reduced-price breakfasts. A study of nearly 50 districts showed a 42 percent overall increase in breakfast participation.
Child nutrition advocates say that's proof that the former 30-cent reduced meal price was too high for many to pay and they are now lobbying to eliminate the 40-cent reduced-price lunch as well. It reportedly cost the state about $1 million to eliminate the reduced-price category for breakfasts in 2006, according to the Washington School Nutrition Association's Gaye Lynn MacDonald. The School Nutrition Association will lead an effort early this year to ask the state legislature to provide free lunches to all poor students. The cost reportedly would be $10 million over two years.