Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Efforts underway to improve participation in school breakfast program in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, KAN. — As educators and advocates celebrate National School Breakfast Week from March 2 to March 6, Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom is expanding efforts to fight childhood hunger and improve participation in the federally funded School Breakfast Program.

Selected school districts in Kansas are now eligible to receive a grant to implement the program from Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom — a consortium of national education and nutrition organizations.

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.

While most U.S. schools participate in the School Breakfast Program, only half of low-income children who are eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast are eating it, according to a 2013 Food Research and Action Center analysis.

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.

“The benefits of children eating breakfast at school include better performance on standardized tests and better attendance records. Additionally, children who eat breakfast are less disruptive in the classroom,” said Cheryl Johnson, director of child wellness and nutrition at the Kansas State Department of Education. “It’s reassuring to know that more Kansas schoolchildren will reap the benefits of a nutritious morning meal thanks to these grant opportunities.”

Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom includes the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation (NAESPF), the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN) and the School Nutrition Foundation (SNF).

Through a $5 million grant from Walmart Foundation, the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom will work closely with state partners to provide technical assistance and support to school districts in developing and implementing the breakfast program.

State partners are: the Kansas State Department of Education, the Kansas Education Association, Kansas Action for Children and the Kansas School Nutrition Association.

School districts in Kansas are currently eligible to apply for grant funds. For more information, or to find out more about the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom grants, visit