Making School Breakfast a Priority!

Starting the school day off strong begins with making sure students have a healthy breakfast and research shows it gets results. Students who eat breakfast, including at school, perform better academically. School breakfast promotes better attendance, concentration, alertness, memory, comprehension and learning.

In Maine, nearly half of all school-aged children are eligible for subsidized school breakfast.  While 86,000 children are eligible to receive a free breakfast, only 47 percent of the eligible children participated in the school breakfast program. Far too many Maine children are going to class on an empty stomach.

The big question is, why are so many kids eligible for free and reduced school meals skipping breakfast? Hunger advocates point to the traditional delivery model of school breakfast. School breakfast is often served at the same time as before school recess. This means many kids who need breakfast have the decision to choose breakfast or recess with their friends. It’s no surprise, they choose the latter, skipping out on breakfast entirely.

This session, Lawmakers introduced a bill aimed at reducing child hunger in Maine by increasing access to school breakfast through alternative breakfast delivery models with a track record of success. LD 809, An Act To Address Student Hunger with a “Breakfast after the Bell” Program essentially requires schools where more than half of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch to offer alternative breakfast models after the bell. While many Maine schools are already making the switch, this bill would encourage the remaining schools to get on board.

However, this week the Governor vetoed this critical bill. Contact your lawmakers and tell them to support “Breakfast after the Bell” by overturning the veto.

There is a growing movement in Maine schools to make breakfast a priority, recognizing that breakfast matters to student behavior and performance. By changing how they serve breakfast, many school districts are seeing dramatic improvements in school breakfast participation rates. This means that more Maine children are showing up to class full and ready to learn.

Alternative breakfast models include:

  • Breakfast in the Classroom takes place once all students have arrived in their classes. Breakfasts are delivered to classrooms before the start of the day, and kids take them and eat at their desks.
  • The Grab ‘n’ Go Cart is stationed in a central location in the school during passing periods or before school. Students quickly grab a breakfast on their way to class.
  • Second Chance Breakfast takes place after the start of the day, between periods or during a scheduled breakfast break. Students grab breakfast from a cart or from the cafeteria.

While schools pay about $1.35 to make each meal, they are reimbursed about $1.71 for each breakfast eaten by a student who gets free meals. Thus, the more students who eat, the more federal reimbursement money the school gets.

There is a growing movement in Maine schools to make breakfast a priority, recognizing that breakfast matters to student behavior and performance. By changing how they serve breakfast, many school districts are seeing dramatic improvements in school breakfast participation rates. This means that more Maine children are showing up to class full and ready to learn.

We all want our children to do the best they can in school and get the most out of their education. Alternative breakfast models help increase participation and encourage all students to eat. Together, we can make breakfast more widely available after the school day begins and reduce the number of children going to school hungry by supporting LD 809.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s