Kansas City, March 8, 2019: Kansas City Public Schools and Operation Food Search are celebrating their joint efforts to help children get the most important meal of the day so that they can focus on the important work of learning.
During a press conference this morning at James Elementary School, leaders from the school system and the non-profit organization talked about how the Breakfast In the Classroom program is supporting equitable outcome for students. The press conference included remarks by:
- Missouri State Representative Richard Brown (D-Kansas City)
- James Elementary School Principal Mary Bachkora
- KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell
- Operation Food Search Director of Child & Family Nutrition Brian Wieher
KCPS received $477,742 in grant funding in 2018 for 25 schools serving 12,500 students to introduce Breakfast in the Classroom service. The expansion is jointly funded by General Mills Foundation and the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, a consortium of national education and nutrition organizations including the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), the NEA Foundation, and the School Nutrition Foundation, which is funded by the Walmart Foundation.
KCPS recently implemented the program at five schools: Harold Holliday Sr. Montessori School, James Elementary School, Longfellow Elementary School, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and Troost Elementary School. Since the program’s launch, student participation in breakfast at these schools has increased from 52 percent to 96 percent.
Dr. Bachkora outlined the positive impact that the Breakfast In the Classroom program has had at James Elementary School:
- The number of hunger-related visits to the school nurse by students has decreased to fewer than five per day
- Less than 10 students are tardy per day, out of nearly 300 students
- Students are more focused and engaged in learning throughout the day
“The Breakfast In the Classroom program really supports our entire school community,” Dr. Bachkora said. “More students are eating school meals and we see a real boost in our classes.”
The program is designed to serve nutritionally balanced breakfasts that meet the current USDA nutrition standards for the School Breakfast Program (SBP). The BIC program is an in-class model that encourages all students to participate in breakfast. In KCPS, all students can eat breakfast and lunch free of charge.
“The Breakfast In the Classroom program is a great example of the work we are doing to create equitable opportunities for student achievement,” Dr. Bedell said. “Hungry students can’t learn. When we say, ‘We are KCPS,’ it means helping every student overcome the barriers to success in school and life.”
March 4 through 8 is National School Breakfast Week (NSBW). This weeklong celebration launched in 1989 to raise awareness of the availability of the SBP, a federally assisted meal program operating in public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions since 1975.
States across the country are requiring schools to make the transition toward non-traditional breakfast service like Breakfast in the Classroom. In fact, 12 states have already enacted legislation that requires low-income schools with low breakfast participation to implement non-traditional breakfast service.
Two “Breakfast After the Bell” bills have been filed in the Missouri House of Representatives this legislative session: HB 132 (sponsored by Rep. Chris Carter) and HB 309 (sponsored by Rep. Cora Faith Walker). According to the Food Research & Action Center’s recently released School Breakfast Scorecard, more than 226,000 low-income children in Missouri participated in the national School Breakfast Program on an average school day in 2017-2018. Operation Food Search notes that 17.4 percent of children in Missouri – nearly one in six children – live in households that struggle with hunger.
On a national basis, 57 percent of low-income students who participate in the school lunch program also participated in school breakfast. In Missouri, 60.9 percent of low-income students who receive school lunch also receive school breakfast, and 93.6 percent of Missouri schools that offer lunch also offer breakfast.
Missouri ranks 15th nationally in school breakfast participation rates among low-income students. If the state reached the national benchmark of 70 percent of low-income students who eat school lunches also participating school breakfasts, it would result in more than $9 million in additional reimbursement annually by the USDA to participating Missouri schools.