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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. 

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