Well, I'm glad to be here at Pillsbury Elementary this morning. Hunger is too important for us to ignore. Its impact on education is too detrimental for us to leave unchecked. The administrators, the teachers, and the nutritional cafeteria staff here at Pillsbury deserve our praise for their efforts to address hunger. Efforts like these are critical to alleviating hunger and nutrition problems and ensuring that every child is ready to learn everyday.
Far too often, we think about hunger in terms of numbers the number of meals, the number of programs, the number of dollars, but hunger should be measured in terms of people especially when we're talking about children. In our state, children are far more likely to suffer the effects of poverty and hunger. Minnesota has more than 200,000 children who go hungry every year, and research from the American School of Health Association shows that poor nutrition among school-aged children relates to poorer class performance, more miss schools, and a direct decline in academic performance. In fact the Center for American Progress found absenteeism and high school dropouts attributable to hunger, costing American kids $19.2 billion lifetime career earnings. At night, only 45% of low-income children eligible for free or reduced breakfasts are being served. This means that up to 29 million school breakfasts are being missed by Minnesota school children.
We can do better. We can do better for the children here at Pillsbury elementary and for their peers across Minnesota. To help all children access breakfast, the state of Minnesota partnering with Hunger-free Minnesota, the Midwest Dairy Council, and the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota to challenge schools across Minnesota to increase the number of school breakfasts they serve to low-income students. And as an added incentive as Ellie was saying the top 30 Minnesota schools will receive ten cents for every new breakfast beyond or was served last year.
In 1965, Minnesota's beloved vice president Hubert Humphrey told an audience, “This is the first generation in all of recorded in history that can do something about the scourge of hunger of poverty.” We have the means to do it. We can banish hunger from the face of the Earth. Initiatives like this one provide us a great opportunity to begin realizing that admirable dream. Thank you.