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Foodbank Staff Boosts Local School Breakfast Participation

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Children who eat a healthy breakfast have not only improved overall health and well-being, but a better chance at a positive academic future.

New studies show that children who go without a good morning meal suffer from more health conditions and have poor attendance and graduation rates.

That’s why it is vital that all our local schools operate a successful school breakfast program. After all, for many children, the breakfast and lunch they eat at school are the only guaranteed meals they’ll get each day.

Nutrition advocates and hunger relief organizations around the country are encouraging schools to incorporate breakfast into the school day and provide meals-on-the-go that make it as easy as possible for kids to eat.

One such organization is No Kid Hungry. In Illinois, they are playing a key role in feeding children throughout the state.

This statewide organization provides school districts with grant funding to buy equipment that will help them implement new and alternative breakfast programs. These improvements allow more kids to eat breakfast.

No Kid Hungry – Illinois hired school breakfast coordinators that work with agencies throughout the state. The coordinators help the schools apply and receive the available grant funding and work with school staff to implement a new breakfast program.

I am the school breakfast coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, and I work with the school districts in our 12 counties in Illinois.

Since I began my work, two school districts in our area have received grant funding and implemented new breakfast models. One recipient, the Brooklyn School District, is now at nearly 100 percent participation in school breakfast at their K-12 school.

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The other district, Granite City, received the grant funding for three of its schools and has seen participation more than double from less than 15 percent to approximately 40-45 percent of students participating in school breakfast. That number continues to grow.

Implementation of grants for three more school districts in the area – Roxana, Bethalto and East Alton- Wood River – will launch in late Spring and early Fall 2014. Similar increases in participation are expected in all three districts.

To help promote school breakfast participation and show the benefits associated with it, two school breakfast summits were recently held in the area. These summits brought together school leaders, community stakeholders, and experts on the topic of school nutrition to discuss what can be done to improve participation and create a more successful and healthy generation of students.

It is our goal to see student participation in school breakfast reach 70 percent in our 12 Illinois counties, the whole state of Illinois and eventually the entire United States.

To learn more about how you can get involved in the school breakfast movement in the state of Illinois, please contact school breakfast coordinator Kelly Hall at 314-292-5767 or khall@stlfoodbank.org.

By Kelly Hall, RD, LD

Registered Dietitian and IL School Breakfast Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. 

Illinois School Breakfast Program

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.

School-Breakfast

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.