The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
January 5, 2011

A Healthy New Year’s Resolution in New Mexico

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, but New Mexico Appleseed, along with pro bono assistance from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP*, has made this resolution a reality for needy students in New Mexico, whose school breakfast program funding was cut by $1.5 million.

NM Appleseed and Skadden published a report, Full Stomachs ~ Full Minds: How New Mexico Public Schools Can Feed More Children for Less Money, which urges New Mexico legislatures to pass a bill that would maintain current funding levels for the state’s school breakfast program; focus funding on the neediest schools; and prioritize the serving of breakfast in the classroom as opposed to the serving of breakfast before the official start of the school day. The report shows a correlation between school breakfast and better education outcomes, including higher math and reading scores and a higher level of alertness, as well as decreased absenteeism, tardiness, and discipline problems. And the breakfast programs must follow federal nutritional guidelines requiring the preparation of well-balanced meals, which the students may not be receiving at home.

This report has already led to positive changes in New Mexico’s school systems. The state’s education and human services departments have begun automatically enrolling students in free and reduced price meal programs on a monthly basis, and waiving an application requirement.

*denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®