Massachusetts Partnership Challenges School Districts To Improve Participation In Breakfast

$75,000 in funding from Fuel Up to Play 60 available to help schools focus on breakfast innovation and friendly competition

BOSTON, Dec. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New England Dairy & Food Council is proud to announce the launch of the Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge. This challenge, developed in partnership with Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the Child Nutrition Outreach Program at Project Bread and School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts, aims to increase school breakfast participation by 35% in districts across the state by the end of 2014.

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"Consuming a healthy school breakfast helps students establish positive eating habits that contribute to a lifetime of overall better health," said Jennie Bass, MS, MPH, director of the Child Nutrition Outreach Program at Project Bread.  "Research shows that serving students fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats improves academic performance, decreases visits to the nurse, and positively impacts classroom behavior."

On September 20th, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a letter to encourage school administrators to find innovative ways to increase participation in school breakfast. According to the Food Research and Action Center's School Breakfast scorecard, Massachusetts ranked a dismal 38th in breakfast participation in the United States. The Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge provides an opportunity to improve that statistic and encourages schools to follow the Secretary's call to champion school breakfast.

"School breakfast is a win-win opportunity," said Jane McLucas,  president of School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts. "Students win by having the nutrition they need to succeed in school, and the nutrition programs benefit from the increased revenue stream which can be an important part of maintaining a financially sound program."

The Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge (MSBC) is a multi-faceted project that includes resources, funding opportunities and awards, all in the name of ensuring students start the day with a healthy meal. The challenge website, www.MASchoolBreakfast.org, is the go-to place for Massachusetts schools to get involved with the challenge and access resources on creative approaches to serving school breakfast, such as in-the-classroom breakfast or grab 'n' go kiosks.

Through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, $75,000 in funding provided by New England Dairy & Food Council and the dairy farmers of Massachusetts is available to help schools rise to this challenge. Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program that offers individual schools up to $4,000 to help them increase awareness of and access to nutrient-rich foods and physical activity opportunities for students.

"Massachusetts dairy farmers are happy to support school breakfast programs, and a little healthy competition doesn't hurt either!" said Sam Shields, dairy farmer of Lolan Farms in Middleboro, MA and Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board. "The future of the dairy industry as well as the health of today's children are critical and deserve our support."

"The Department of Agricultural Resources is thrilled to support the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's role in increasing school breakfast participation. Breakfast not only fuels the minds and bodies of our youth, but it is also a great way to encourage children to consume local dairy products like milk and yogurt every day," said Greg Watson, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.  "Our dairy farmers depend on it too!"

Fuel Up to Play 60 funding can be used to support costs associated with starting or improving school breakfast programs, such as equipment purchases.This special funding application deadline is December 20, 2012.

Visit www.MASchoolBreakfast.org to learn more about the challenge.

About New England Dairy & Food Council
New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC) is a non-profit nutrition education organization staffed by registered dietitians. NEDFC is a state and regional affiliate of the National Dairy Council® (NDC).  Our goal is to ensure that health professionals, scientists, media and educators have a credible body of nutrition information upon which to base health recommendations.

About Child Nutrition Programs administered by the Office of Nutrition, Health and Safety of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
The Child Nutrition Programs administered by the Office of Nutrition, Health and Safety of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education play a critical role in ensuring that all children are ready to learn by supporting nutritious meal service in school breakfast and lunch, after-school snack and summer feeding programs as well as food programs for children, family and adult care facilities.

About School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts
School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts is a state affiliate of the School Nutrition Association.  The Association brings information, services and continuing education to school nutrition professionals in Massachusetts. By sponsoring state conferences and regional trainings, we expose our members to speakers, workshops, and exhibits that showcase the latest ideas and the most current issues in school nutrition.

About Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources' (MDAR) mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – MDAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth's agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production.

The Child Nutrition Outreach Program
The Child Nutrition Outreach Program works to increase participation in two underutilized federal child nutrition programs, the National School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program. Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and administered by Project Bread, CNOP has been supporting school nutrition directors, superintendents, principals, and other school personnel since 1994. CNOP offers a wide variety of free resources to ensure that all children in MA have access to and utilize these important programs.

For More Information:
Stephanie Ferrari, MS, RD
New England Dairy & Food Council
617-734-6750 x21 (office)
413-265-3814 (cell)
SFerrari@NewEnglandDairy.com

SOURCE New England Dairy & Food Council



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