Some Colorado students may have to begin paying for breakfast at school

DENVER - We all know there's no such thing as a free lunch -- and for some Colorado students, there could soon be no such thing as a free breakfast.

Thousands of students across Colorado who currently eat free breakfast and lunch at school, could be in danger of losing the free portion of those meals if a new bill becomes law.

Right now, if a Colorado school has a student body where 70 percent or more qualify for free and reduced lunch, all of the students at that school are also offered free breakfast, too.

But if HB 1463 passes and becomes law, the other 30 percent who don’t qualify for free meals due to their parents' income will be forced to begin paying for breakfast.

Opponents said the line is so fine between those who qualify and those who don't, that thousands of students could go hungry.

“It’s just a difference between the people that get free and reduced lunch... is just a couple of dollars, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have financial hardship,” said Juan Evangelista. “It could be the difference between having my kid choose whether he eats lunch only or just breakfast and unfortunately sometimes, for some families, it’s not going to be either one because they can’t afford it.”

But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, who’s also the founder of the ‘breakfast after the bell’ program when it started in 2013, believes a change in the program is necessary for it to survive.

“No kid will be denied breakfast with this bill passing, no kids are going to be put out,” said Moreno. “This is really about the long-term financial sustainability of the entire ‘breakfast after the bell’ program, so we want to make sure that schools do have the resources that they need to make sure that the programs successful.”

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