Hunger Free Colorado | Proactive Communications Helped Pass Bill to Provide Breakfast to Low-Income Children

  • Challenge

    Help an anti-hunger organization pass legislation through proactive media relations, community and grassroots support

  • Solution

    A proactive communications and public policy outreach strategy

  • Results

    The bill passed with bi-partisan support, and Gov. Hickenlooper participated in a bill-signing ceremony

Challenge

Hunger Free Colorado, an anti-hunger organization, sponsored a bill that would require every school in Colorado with a significant majority of low-income students to offer a free breakfast during first period. The bill faced critics who questioned the cost and need, a divided legislature, and required a communications strategy to be successful.

Solution

GFM developed and executed a plan to communicate the need for the program through community, grassroots and media outreach. For stakeholders, GFM highlighted successful existing school breakfast programs to showcase how the program would work. Additional outreach to teachers and administrators covered improved performance of students who had enrolled in similar programs. To ensure there were breakfast advocates outside of schools, GFM conducted mini message/media training sessions with students, parents and pediatricians. In addition to testifying on the bill’s behalf during the hearings, GFM pitched these ambassadors to local print and broadcast media to highlight the impact school breakfast had on their families and on the overall health of children. GFM worked with Hunger Free Colorado’s partners to ensure that Hispanic/bilingual media were also aware of the bill and its positive impact within that community.

Results

Much of GFM’s efforts and resulting media coverage was included in communities where the main opposition to the bill could be rooted. GFM secured extensive coverage in key media outlets. The bill passed through Colorado’s House and Senate with bi-partisan support, and Governor Hickenlooper participated in a bill-signing event at a local school, where GFM secured extensive media coverage. The Breakfast After the Bell program is now a state law and helps provide an estimated 82,000 additional children with a nutritious breakfast every day.