Source: The School Breakfast Initiative
The School Breakfast Initiative announced today that 120 Minnesota schools have been selected to participate in the 2014-15 School Breakfast Challenge. Each participating school will receive $2,500 in unrestricted funds to invest in increasing school breakfast participation in addition to a $0.25 incentive per meal served to free-and reduced-price eligible children over the number served the prior school year, up to 25,000 meals.
"This school year (2013-14), we were able to support 40 schools with a $0.10 per meal incentive," said Ellie Lucas, chief campaign officer for Hunger-Free Minnesota. "Now, thanks to financial support from our partners, along with overwhelming enthusiasm from Minnesota schools, we are proud to announce that the 2014-15 School Breakfast Challenge includes 120 schools."
The School Breakfast Initiative is a partnership between Hunger-Free Minnesota and Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota. Financial support comes from The General Mills Foundation, the Cargill Foundation and the Midwest Dairy Council.
"Hunger relief is a primary focus area for The General Mills Foundation," said Ellen Goldberg Luger, General Mills vice president and executive director of The General Mills Foundation. "The face of hunger is changing and unfortunately, many children go to school hungry. We believe it’s important for students to start the day right with a nutritious breakfast that will help them be focused and ready to learn."
"We are excited to continue our work with Hunger-Free Minnesota and Minnesota schools to triple the number of schools involved in this important program that ensures that students start their day with a nutritious school breakfast," said Julie Mattson Ostrow, MS, RD, FAND, Midwest Dairy Council. "Increasing access to school breakfast helps more kids perform better in the classroom and provides nutrition for students who may otherwise come to school hungry."
320,000 students in Minnesota are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Low utilization of free and reduced-price meals from the School Breakfast Program is widespread across Minnesota school districts, with overall usage of the federally funded program at only 45 percent. More than 380 schools applied for the School Breakfast Challenge.
"At Cargill, we are excited to see the dramatic increase in applications for the School Breakfast Initiative program, as well as the increased number of schools added to the upcoming year," said Tolá Oyewole, director of the Cargill Foundation. "This Hunger-Free Minnesota program addresses the issue of childhood hunger, while improving academic performance for educational success."
Research studies by Deloitte/No Kid Hungry and the National Dairy Council demonstrate that children who start their day with a nutritious school breakfast have a better attendance record, higher math test scores and improved graduation rates. Surveys of school teachers by No Kid Hungry also overwhelmingly show that school breakfast works to keep kids focused, behaved and learning. Karra Hartog, head cook at Gideon Pond Elementary School, who participated in the 2013- 14 School Breakfast Challenge (and has also been selected for 2014-15), shared the success her school has experienced at the 2014-15 School Breakfast Challenge Launch.
"After being selected to participate in the 2013-14 School Breakfast Challenge, we were able to commit to improving our breakfast participation in a way that works for our students, our teachers and our custodial staff," said Hartog. "We determined that a Grab n’ Go or as we call it, BAG IT (Bringing AGreat Start Into The Classroom) model, would allow more of our students to participate in school breakfast."
Overcoming Barriers to School Breakfast Participation
In addition to financial support, the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota will work with selected schools to connect them with resources such as information on successful models, promotional materials and lessons learned, and will help them identify other potential funding opportunities. This work will include identifying barriers to participation such as time constraints, transportation issues and lack of awareness.
"We are excited to work with these schools so more children who come to school hungry can get a healthy breakfast to set them up for learning," said Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota Executive Director Peggy Flanagan. "Our work over the last year has proven that it is possible for schools to increase participation in school breakfast, which can lead to increases in daily attendance and academic performance and decreases in behavioral issues, illness and trips to the nurse."