WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As schools get ready to welcome back students this fall, a morning meal will be available to even more students across the country at no charge thanks to the expansion of Breakfast in the Classroom, a program funded by the Walmart Foundation. In its second year, the Breakfast in the Classroom expansion initiative will build on last year's initial success with five school districts by adding 10 more districts this school year. The expansion will provide more than 70,000 students with the opportunity to start their school day with a healthy breakfast in the classroom.
Through a $5 million grant from the Walmart Foundation, the Breakfast in the Classroom program reworks how school breakfast is delivered, by offering it at no charge to all students and moving it from the cafeteria to the classroom to improve participation in the federally-funded School Breakfast Program.
Data consistently show the underutilization of the federal School Breakfast Program, which is available in most U.S. schools and institutions. School bus schedules, late arrivals to school, pressure to go directly to class, and reluctance to be labeled "low income" are among the reasons that many students do not participate in cafeteria-based school breakfast. In fact, while most U.S. schools participate in the federally-funded School Breakfast Program, less than half of the low-income children eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast are eating it, according to 2011 Food Research and Action Center analysis.
"The benefits for children eating breakfast at school are well-documented and expansive, with reported improvements to standardized test scores, vocabulary, concentration, and behavior," said Mark Terry, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, speaking on behalf of the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. "Serving breakfast to students in the classroom is not only a way to infuse nutrition into their daily diets, but build a classroom community by starting the day with a meal together. We are pleased with the continued expansion of the Breakfast in the Classroom program, helping more children start the new school year and subsequently every day off in a healthy way."
The Breakfast in the Classroom program is a joint initiative of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN), and School Nutrition Foundation – collectively known as the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. The Partners are working in conjunction with school nutrition leaders, state and local NEA affiliates, state principals' associations, and local anti-hunger groups in each of the districts to implement the program.
"The Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom and the participating school districts understand the important role food plays in helping our children grow into healthy and well-educated young adults," said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. "By working community-by-community to address the issue of child hunger at the local level, we are making changes that will benefit the lives of thousands of our nation's children."
New school districts were selected to participate in the program based on need and potential for success. The districts are: Charleston County School District, S.C.; Denver Public Schools, Colo.; Des Moines Public Schools, Iowa; Elgin School District U-46, Ill.; Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, N.C.; Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Ky.; Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, Kan.; Knox County Schools, Knoxville, Tenn.; and Pinellas County Schools, Largo, Fla. A tenth district will be announced in the coming weeks.
The inaugural five districts that implemented Breakfast in the Classroom in the 2010-2011 school year continue to see success with the program, and surpassed their combined initial goal of ensuring that more than 10,000 additional children received school breakfast each day across all five school districts, bringing the total amount of additional children eating breakfast to 10,463 at the end of the first year. The districts include: Dallas Independent School District, Texas; Little Rock School District, Ark.; Memphis City Schools, Tenn.; Orange County Public Schools, Fla. (including Orlando); and Prince George's County Public Schools, Md.
Breakfast in the Classroom is part of a $2 billion cash and in-kind multi-year commitment (through 2015) by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to fight hunger in America. For more information, visit www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.
Amber La Croix
SOURCE Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom