Governor Markell Signs HB 408 Expanding Breakfast Services In Our Schools

On September 14th, Governor Jack Markell signed HB 408 that will ensure that Delaware schoolchildren receive breakfast each morning.

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While schools typically serve breakfast before school starts, many students may miss this opportunity to eat breakfast for a variety of reasons, such as tight morning arrival times and the social stigma attached to the traditional school breakfast program. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as many as 12% of school-aged children skip breakfast.

The “Breakfast After the Bell” law will require that public and charter schools adopt proven “alternative service models” to provide breakfast to children at no cost. The program will take effect beginning with the 2017-18 school year, though some schools, such as Jones (Albert H.) Elementary School, already offer the service.

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Alternatives to the traditional school breakfast service include “Breakfast in the Classroom” and “Second Chance Breakfast,” which give students the opportunity to obtain breakfast for a period of time after school starts, and “Grab and Go Breakfast,” in which breakfast items are made available at carts or kiosks in other areas of the school apart from the cafeteria.

Research has shown that students who eat breakfast at school have better attendance rates, a reduction in disciplinary problems, and improved test scores. The program is supported by Food Bank of Delaware and DSEA.

Breakfast may be available in every Delaware school, but we know that many kids who need that healthy meal to start the day still aren’t getting it – and we’re not just talking about students from needy families. We’ve seen how successful school breakfast programs can be when schools and policymakers think outside the box, and we want that success in our state. I’m looking forward to seeing other schools throughout Delaware implement a Breakfast After the Bell program to make sure that no child goes hungry.

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Refurbished Brookside Basketball Courts Open

 

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I was thrilled to join Senator Bryan Townsend and Brookside President Vic Enos for the re-opening of the completely refurbished basketball court in Brookside at the corner of Rt 4 & Rt 72. This will give kids and adults somewhere safe to play within walking distance of their homes. Good job Brookside Community Inc!

Out in the Community: RI International Ribbon Cutting

RI International Recovery Response Center Ribbon Cutting

In early August, I was thrilled to take part in the ribbon cutting for RI International recovery response center near Newark, a facility that will provide clients with a first step to recovery when they’re experiencing a substance abuse or mental health crisis.

The Newark Post reported that the center, which can accommodate 16 people at a time, operates on what CEO David Covington calls a “living room model.” The main area of the clinic looks much like a living room, with cushy chairs arranged in clusters and a television set and computers available for use. Private rooms contain recliners, not beds.

Clients – who center officials refer to as “guests” instead of “patients” – can check themselves in, be referred there by medical professionals or be dropped by police officers. The center keeps people for up to 23 hours of observation before on-duty psychologists, nurses and peer specialists determine the best next course of action.

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Out in the Community: AB Group Packaging and Dr. Seuss!

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Governor Jack Markell, Senator Chris Coons, Ambassador of Ireland to the U.S. Anne Anderson, Delaware Economic Development Office Director Bernice Whaley, Rep. Helene Keeley, Rep. Mike Ramone, and myself with company executives at AB Group Packaging welcoming them to the 24th District and celebrating the official Grand Opening of their first U.S. plant in Delaware.

AB Group Packaging, a 30-year-old Irish manufacturer of paper bags and flexible packaging products, also operates plants in Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom. CEO Dermot Brady, who founded the company with his father in 1985, promises 87 new manufacturing jobs at the plant by 2017, and anticipates additional growth in the future.

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I loved participating in Read Across America Day at the University of Delaware Early Learning Center in Newark. I was joined by Senator Bethany Hall-Long, Director of the ELC Peg Bradley and volunteers from United Way, WL Gore, Burris Logistics and Dow Chemical.

I read my favorite Dr. Seuss book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to a class of toddlers. I was two years old when the book was published and I still think it’s a classic.

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child. – Dr. Seuss

SB 130 Creates Walkable, Bikable Communities

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In May, Governor Markell signed into law SB 130, sponsored by me and Sen. Harris McDowell. This legislation allows communities and local governments to partner with Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to establish Complete Community Enterprise Districts and foster walkable, bikeable and transit-friendly development planning.

Thanks to Bike Delaware and all the other great organizations that supported this bill and helped us make it a law.

HB 408 Expands School Breakfast Programs

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Although the school year is over, I wanted to focus on what we can do to help Delaware students. That is why I introduced HB 408, which expands school breakfast programs in Delaware schools. Hunger is a major detriment to our children learning in school (12% of school-aged kids skip breakfast).

While schools typically serve breakfast before school starts, many students may miss this opportunity to eat breakfast for a variety of reasons, such as tight morning arrival times and the social stigma attached to the traditional school breakfast program. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as many as 12 percent of school-aged children skip breakfast.

House Bill 408 directs Delaware schools to adopt proven “Alternative Service Models” that have been shown to increase the number of students who eat breakfast at school, which in turn leads to better attendance rates, a reduction in disciplinary problems, and improved test scores, research has shown.

This legislation is supported by the Food Bank of Delaware, the DSEA and the state Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and was passed by the General Assembly on July 1st. I look forward to Governor Markell signing the bill into law.

Newark Senior Center Celebrates 50 Years

This year, the Newark Senior Center has been celebrating its 50th Anniversary. I hope you will join me in supporting an organization that is important in our community. The Newark Senior Center provides a long list of educational programs, social services, and physical fitness programs designed to improve the quality of life for seniors in the Newark area. The Center also runs a vital Meals on Wheels program, which allows seniors who are unable to provide for themselves receive the nutritious meals they need to remain in their homes.

Please visit http://www.newarkseniorcenter.com/ for more information on how you can help out this wonderful organization

 

Governor Signs HB 325, Closing the Charleston Loophole

On June 24th, Governor Markell signed into law legislation that I sponsored with Representative Val Longhurst that would close a serious federal loophole that annually allows thousands of prohibited persons to purchase firearms without passing a background check.

Under HB 325, a person purchasing a firearm would need to pass a background check before a transaction could be completed. This would not impact the vast majority of gun transactions in Delaware, as 92% of background checks are completed in a matter of minutes, or at most, hours. This would eliminate the “delayed transactions” (also known as “default proceeds”) of guns being turned over because a background check takes longer than three business days.

As amended, HB 325 allows 25 days for a background check to be completed before a firearm could be transferred.

According to the FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation, from 2010-14, gun dealers completed 15,729 gun sales to ineligible people due to the delayed transaction provision.

“148 in the 148th” Food Drive

This spring, the 148th General Assembly participated in the 148 in the 148th food drive, which brought together organizations and donors across the state to raise 148,000 pounds of donations for the Food Bank of Delaware.

Spearheaded by Rep. Lyndon Yearick of Camden, Delaware, and myself, the food drive shattered its goal and brought in more than 173,000 pounds of food items that will be distributed to needy families across Delaware.

Special thanks go out to Delaware Technical Community College for mobilizing the college community to participate, and to the Delaware Food Industry Council, which gathered 75,00 pounds of donations from its local supermarket members.

For more information about donating to the Food Bank of Delaware, please visit www.fbd.org 13227821_1392352794114506_7339309315522969138_o

The Importance of Labor Day

This week, the House Democratic Caucus put together a video with myself and my fellow union brother Rep. JJ Johnson talking about the importance of this holiday weekend and the real meaning of “Labor” in Labor Day. Please take a minute and watch.

The Importance of Labor Day