1 out of 5 (16 Million) Kids in the U.S. Struggle with Hunger
School nutrition programs are a proven tool for addressing childhood hunger while improving educational results and addressing long- health outcomes.
COMMUNITY ELIGIBILITY MEANS MORE Pa. STUDENTS ELIGIBLE FOR FREE MEALS
Thousands of students in Pennsylvania are being better fed to focus on learning, as the Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act expanded to the Commonwealth this school year. The provision, which allows everyone in qualifying schools to receive free breakfast and lunch, saves the cost of processing paperwork and removes stigma for children who whose families cannot pay.
See a map of eligible schools and districts, and who is participating in Pennsylvania.
Schools qualify based on the proportion of students receiving SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), MA (Medical Assistance), and other programs, to estimate need and receive reimbursement for meals served. The money saved in payment paperwork can be funneled into food for children. The new nutrition guidelines require healthier foods to be served, as well. Studies show good nutrition does more than foster good health: It promotes attendance, better behavior and increased academic performance.
Although new to Pennsylvania, the provision has been piloted in several states since the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed in 2010.
SCHOOL BREAKFAST EXPANSION
The simple act of eating breakfast can change a child’s life. Not every child has food at home for breakfast every day. If a kid can’t eat at home, they cannot think clearly and excel in school. That’s why the Feed My Sheep campaign is focused on making sure more kids start the school day with school breakfast.
Pennsylvania is at the back of the pack when it comes to getting hungry kids off to a good start for a day of learning — coming in at 42nd in the nation for percent of eligible students participating in school breakfast, according to the Food Research and Action Council. Read the report. Find out how to get your school signed up for the Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge and improve everyone’s chance for success. Connect your school to fresh food with a $5,000 farm-to-school grant. Share your work with us at LAMPa or let us help!
The School Breakfast Program, a federal program that operates much like the National School Lunch Program, makes it possible for children in the US to receive a nutritious breakfast to start the school day. Research has shown the many benefits of school breakfast. Children who eat school breakfast are more likely to perform well on reading and math tests, concentrate better, are more alert, retain more of what they learn, and are more likely to participate in class. School breakfast is associated with reduced absenteeism, tardiness, behavioral problems and nurse’s office visits; increased standardized test scores; higher grades; and positive learning environments.
“Feed My Lambs” – LAMPa’s School Breakfast Initiative
In John 21, Jesus invites his disciples to an abundant breakfast on the beach, asking them three times to tend his sheep and feed his lambs. God’s faithful do this primarily through proclaiming God’s word and sharing the sacraments, as well as through service in our communities. But there is more we can do.
Join Lutheran congregations around the state in a concrete expression of providing for all God’s children by working to expand and improve the school breakfast program in your school district. The School Breakfast Campaign is a simple way to make a difference for many children, to show Christ’s love and to become more deeply involved in your community. Here’s how.
School Breakfast in Pennsylvania Background
In Pennsylvania, 85 percent of schools that offer school lunch also offer school breakfast; however, the program remains underutilized in many schools. Only 44 percent of low-income kids who eat school lunch also eat school breakfast. This not only affects kids’ health, nutrition and readiness to learn; it also has a significant economic impact. In 2011-2012, Pennsylvania lost more federal funding due to low participation in school breakfast than all but five other states.
Some students do not participate in traditional cafeteria-based school breakfast programs due to bus schedules or late arrivals to school. Others are too busy socializing or are in a hurry to get to class. Many students are reluctant because of the perceived social stigma associated with eating school breakfast – the program is for low-income students.
Many schools increase breakfast participation by expanding service beyond the cafeteria. Food service directors find that when they take breakfast to students, instead of expecting them to come to the cafeteria before the bell, more students from all socioeconomic levels eat breakfast and gain the academic, behavioral and nutritional benefits. These models include:
- Breakfast in the Classroom
Students eat breakfast in the classroom after the start of the school day or during morning break time. There are several options for delivery.
- School nutrition staff delivers breakfast using mobile service carts or insulated rolling bags.
- Student representatives from each classroom go to the cafeteria, pick up the breakfasts for those students eating breakfast, and take it back to the class in a cart or wagon.
- Students stop by the cafeteria and pick up breakfast in grab and go bags and then go to their classrooms.
Breakfast takes 10 to 15 minutes for the student to eat. Teachers can use this time to take attendance, collect homework, deliver announcements or read to the class.
Breakfast in the classroom increases participation by eliminating some of the barriers associated with a traditional cafeteria-based breakfast, such as social stigma, and it reaches students who do not have time to eat before school or who are not able to get to school in time for breakfast because of bus schedules. Breakfast in the classroom is very successful in elementary schools.
- Grab & Go Breakfast
Food service staff package breakfast so students can grab a reimbursable meal from mobile service carts located in high traffic areas such as the school entrance, cafeteria, hallways, or near the gym. The serving carts usually have a computer or point of service machine to count the meals served. Students can take the breakfast and eat it in the hall, in class, or in the cafeteria, depending on what the school decides is appropriate. Some districts provide a Grab & Go breakfast for students to eat on the bus.
There is considerable flexibility with this method of serving breakfast, depending on the school’s needs. Students are responsible for following the school’s guidelines as to where and when they can eat and for disposing of their trash. This service method allows schools to serve breakfast more quickly to students. Grab & Go breakfast works well in middle and high schools because older students enjoy the flexibility and choice that this model provides.
- Breakfast after 1st Period or “Second Chance Breakfast”
Food service offers a Grab & Go breakfast from mobile carts or tables located in high traffic areas during a morning break, usually after 1st period. Serving breakfast at this time reaches students who are not hungry first thing in the morning, who do not have time to eat before school, or who eat breakfast very early. Breakfast after 1st period works well in middle and high schools.
Feed My Lambs Action Guide
Research how your school district is providing school breakfast
Check out The Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center District by District School Breakfast Report Card The site also provides data on hunger in the Commonwealth, including ways to take action specific to Pennsylvania.
Interview the Director of Food Services in your district or at your local school to find out how many students are served, challenges to delivery, opportunities for partnership with faith community. For assistance, contact a member of the “Breakfast Brigade”. The brigade is an outreach of ProjectPa, a partnership between Penn State University’s Department of Nutritional Sciences and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to facilitate improvements in school breakfast delivery around the state.
Learn about best practices in delivery of school breakfast at:
- The Food Research and Action Center provides research that supports the need for school breakfast, describes best practices and policy from states around the country and offers strategies for taking action at http://frac.org/
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers tips and downloadable resources for expanding school breakfast programs. The website includes guidelines for assessing local programs, strategies for addressing barriers to participation, involving stakeholders and marketing.
- To learn more about Breakfast in the Classroom, an initiative to increase school breakfast participation by including it in the school day, visit the Breakfast in the Classroom web page.. This initiative gains strength from the collaboration of the Food Research and Action Center, the National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, the National Education Association Health Information Network, and the School Nutrition Foundation.
- Share Our Strength shares the results of the latest study linking school breakfast to academic performance.
- View the documentary film, titled “A Place at the Table.”
To see news coverage of the study:
Philadelphia Inquirer: “Study: School Breakfasts Nourish Higher Scores” and CNN: “Eatocracy”
The Center for Hunger-Free Communities — Drexel University School of Public Health focuses on understanding and ending hunger and economic insecurity for families and children. The center operates two major ongoing studies: Children’s HealthWatch and Witnesses to Hunger. They also do smaller studies, such as “The Real Cost of a Healthy Diet: 2011″, that examine other issues related to hunger and poverty like the affordability and accessibility of food. Begun in Philadelphia in 2008, research participants are caregivers with young children who receive some form of public assistance. Using the “photovoice” methodology, participants are given cameras to document their lives and their ideas for change. To see their accounts and research findings, go to this link.
For more information, see the Food Research and Action Center’s School Breakfast Report Card.