With a growing list of both health and academic benefits associated with children consuming breakfast, there is now a stronger push than ever to get kids eating breakfast at school. Groups around the country are encouraging schools to incorporate breakfast into the school day or at least make it as easy as possible for kids to eat.
No Kid Hungry Illinois
No Kid Hungry is one such group that is playing a key role in feeding children throughout the state of Illinois. They are able to provide school districts with funding to buy equipment that will help them implement new and alternative breakfast programs that allow more kids to participate in school breakfast. Such programs include Breakfast in the Classroom, which consists of bringing breakfast to each individual classroom in a school and allowing all kids to eat during the first 10 to 20 minutes of the school day. There is also Grab n’ Go Breakfast, which brings breakfast carts out into the busiest areas of a school and allows kids to quickly grab a breakfast and then move on to their class.
School Breakfast Coordinators
No Kid Hungry in Illinois hires school breakfast coordinators that work for agencies throughout the state. The coordinators help the schools apply for grant funding that is available, as well as working with them every step of the way on implementing new breakfast programs. Being the school breakfast coordinator hired by the St. Louis Area Foodbank to cover the 12 Illinois counties in our service territory allows me the opportunity to work with several amazing school districts that all have best interest of their students at heart.
The 2013-2014 School Year
Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, the Granite City School District is providing Grab n’ Go Breakfast at both of its middle schools (Grigsby and Coolidge) as well as at Granite City High School. Additionally, the Brooklyn School District is providing Breakfast in the Classroom to students enrolled in kindergarten through 6th grade and Grab n’ Go to grades 7 through 12. Other school districts looking to start programs in late fall or at the start of 2014 are Roxana, East Alton-Wood River High School, Collinsville, Murphysboro, Carbondale, and Madison.
The districts involved thus far are primarily those with higher rates of free and reduced price meal eligible students. However, any district in the state of Illinois is eligible to apply for the breakfast grants, as long as they are working with one of the school breakfast coordinators.
Goal of the Program
The state of Illinois has set a goal to increase student participation in school breakfast programs by 5 percent by the end of the 2013-2014 school year. These alternative breakfast programs and grant resources are a great way to maximize school breakfast participation, which can help lead to healthier, more focused and well-behaved children in our schools.
Participate in the Program
If you work for an Illinois school district that may be interested in implementing an alternative breakfast model, please contact me and we can begin discuss that steps it takes to make it happen.
Contact Kelly Hall at 314-292-5767 or KHall@stlfoodbank.org
By Kelly Hall, RD, LD
IL School Breakfast Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. She is a registered dietitian.