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DE bill would create new school breakfast program

Thursday, May 27th, 2010



A bill filed in Legislative Hall in Dover would make sure kids in Delaware start the day with a good breakfast.

House Bill 401 would establish the Delaware Universal Breakfast Fund “to ensure access to breakfast to every child regardless of income.”

“There is ample research that shows that eating breakfast has a positive impact on students’ academic performance,” said State Rep. Dan Short (R-Seaford), one of the bill’s sponsors.

The fund would be administered jointly by the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Education.

Patricia D. Beebe, President/CEO of the Food Bank of Delaware, says the state would need $3 to $4 million to fund the program.

State Rep. Bill Oberle (R-Beecher’s Lot), one of the bill’s prime sponsors, says he knows where to find the financing without raising taxes or diverting money from other programs.

Currently, selected beverage containers sold in Delaware carry a five-cent deposit. Upon returning the empty containers, consumers can reclaim their deposit, but only a fraction of deposit containers are returned. Approximately $3 million in uncollected container deposit revenue is unclaimed annually and is kept by beverage distributors.

“This money is escheat or abandoned property,” Oberle said. “Instead of letting it remain in the hands of beverage distributors, it should be reverting to the state, as is the case with other abandoned property.”

Oberle’s plan, however, depends on the recently-passed universal recycling bill being struck down. Under that new bill (SB 234), the beverage container deposit will be repealed on December 1st.

“In my mind, there is no question that the law will be found unconstitutional,” Oberle said. “I’m offering my school breakfast bill in anticipation of that eventuality.”

According to a release issued by the Delaware House of Representatives, Minority Caucus, the recycling bill faces three potential legal challenges.

The release states: “The most significant of these issues is a state constitutional requirement that any state appropriation of funds to municipalities or corporations — something the law will do by issuing grants and low-interest loans via the Delaware Recycling Fund — be approved by a three-quarters vote of both chambers of the General Assembly. The bill fell five votes short of that super-majority in its passage through the House.”


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