Breakfast After the Bell: Healthier Kids and Healthier Budgets
By Jon Barry (Director, No Kid Hungry Missouri)
Today, like most weekday mornings, I made my breakfast and coffee and read the day’s news. On the same morning, millions of kids across America went to school without breakfast.
In Missouri, approximately 50 percent of our students come from low-income and food-insecure households and rely on a free or reduced price lunch each day. However, of those kids, less than half of them are eating breakfast at school. Too many of these students miss out on breakfast because it is served before they arrive, or they do not want to face the stigma of eating alone in the cafeteria.
In April 2016, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced the launch of No Kid Hungry Missouri to immediately tackle these hunger issues, he stated, “Child hunger is a serious problem – but it’s a solvable one. The No Kid Hungry Missouri campaign will work to break down the barriers that stand between kids and the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong.”
School breakfast is important for all kids regardless of their economic situation. No kid Hungry partnered with Deloitte to conduct a social impact analysis which found that kids who eat breakfast at school are 20 percent more likely to graduate!
The best way to increase participation in school breakfast is by switching to a breakfast after the bell service model. Whether it’s “Breakfast in the Classroom” for elementary kids, “Grab-n-Go Breakfast” for middle school students, or a “Second Chance Breakfast” for high school students, breakfast after the bell makes sense. It leads to better health and educational outcomes for kids, and it means healthier budgets for schools.
One school in southeast Missouri went from 17 to 86 percent participation in breakfast within two months! Imagine what a similar increase in participation rates could do for your students, your nutrition programs, and your revenues. The more breakfasts served equals lower per-unit costs and greater reimbursement income.
The No Kid Hungry Breakfast Challenge offers funding to qualified schools to help offset the costs of making the switch. Schools with a free-and-reduced-eligible population of at least 60 percent can apply for funding up to $3,000 to cover the cost of equipment like rolling carts, kiosks, and insulated bags. Applications are due no later than September 30, 2016. You can learn more about the Breakfast Challenge and complete your application by visiting us as http://dss.mo.gov/NoKidHungryMO.
Thanks to our partnership with the Midwest Dairy Council and Share Our Strength, we are happy to offer incentives to the highest performing schools. As part of the Breakfast Challenge, participating schools that see the highest increases in breakfast participation over the school year will be eligible for awards of up to $1,000.
I want to end childhood hunger in our great state. I hope you will join me.