Across the country, local communities are coming together to demand more for America’s children. These individuals are taking matters into their own hands and working together to solve some of our nation’s most challenging social problems, including child hunger.
In the United States, 1 in 5 children are at risk for hunger and the problem is so severe that teachers spend $37 a month and principals spend $59 a month, on average, buying food for hungry students. NEA members are on the front lines of hunger and know which students are hungry and haven’t eaten anything since lunch the day before.
In response to the growing rise of child hunger in the United States, NEA HIN is proud to support Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), which aims to increase breakfast consumption among schoolchildren and spark the academic and nutritional gains associated with the morning meal. This program reworks the traditional cafeteria-based breakfast by removing barriers to participation and bringing breakfast into the classroom for students to enjoy in the first 10-15 minutes of the school day.
To date, NEA HIN has partnered with various stakeholders in 12 states and 14 school districts to implement BIC and to help feed an additional 70,000 students breakfast. This achievement could not have been accomplished alone, and was only possible with assistance from national partners, teachers, educators, food service workers, parents, custodians, anti-hunger advocates, students, and community leaders coming together around a shared cause.
A fundamental premise of NEA HIN’s BIC program is stakeholder engagement and the idea that we are stronger and more successful together than we are alone. By making breakfast in the classroom a team effort from the outset, this model helps to bring key stakeholders to the table and avoids conflicts or problems. In speaking with some NEA local presidents who were involved in BIC, they had this to say about the program:
- “From the start, BIC has encouraged and built collaboration in our schools, district, and community among the administration, the school board, community partners, and our association. Through engagement of this network, BIC has spread into more of the district's schools, providing every student at the sites with equal access and opportunity for a tasty, nutritious breakfast that will help them as they go about their school day.” Cathy Koehler, President, Little Rock Education Association
- “The teachers and our school families are a community that comes together in the best interests of our children. We need to support each other in any way we can if our schools are to succeed in providing the best learning environments. The ongoing challenges to bring quality schools to all neighborhoods need the collaborative efforts of many. This [Breakfast in the Classroom] program not only impacts the lives of students, but also allowed teacher input on how best to make this work in each classroom.” Kathryn Castle, President of the Elgin Teachers Association
- “The School Board has recognized the positive benefits of breakfast for all children, and has approved increasing the local budget to include Breakfast in the Classroom to three times as many schools next year in an ongoing initiative.” Elizabeth Foster, President, Guilford County Association of Educators
These educators are raising their hands for their students and declaring that child hunger is unacceptable and is a solvable problem. Their actions have made a real difference in their communities and illustrate how parents, teachers, administrators, and students can create social movement that works and benefits students. Stakeholder engagement at every level of the school system is critical to student success. Any group wanting to engage in ending child hunger will need to involve all appropriate stakeholders in order to ensure hunger-free schools and communities.
I encourage you to plan or take part in an event in your area to bring stakeholders together and demand solutions, empower communities, and organize for action around social justice issues, like child hunger. Raise your hand and let us know what issues are important to you by continuing the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, including a National Day of Action Toolkit and event materials, please go to www.edvotes.org/ourschools.
Last week, a terrific Op-Ed was featured on @Good titled, “No Child Left Behind? How About 'No Kid Hungry'?” This piece touched on the growing problem of child hunger in the United States and how hunger affects both student health and academic achievement. The Op-Ed was written by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and Share Our Strength Founder and CEO Billy Shore and illustrated new findings from Share Our Strength's annual nationwide poll of K-8 public school staff about hunger in schools. It also included a bold solution to child hunger in the form of school breakfast and programs like Breakfast in the Classroom.
To view the full Op-Ed you can find it here.
It’s that time when students and teachers head back to the classroom. Educators are focused on how best to meet their students' needs—and one way they are doing that is by making sure their students have a nutritious start to their day.
New findings from a national survey released by Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign show that breakfast is key to academic success and that rethinking how we serve school breakfast is crucial to enhancing the educational experience for all. The connection between good nutrition and academic success is not new to educators. Teachers know firsthand that hungry students cannot learn.
Princess Moss, an elementary school teacher from Virginia and National Education Association Executive Committee member shares her story about hungry children in her classroom, "As an elementary school teacher, I can assure you that I had students who came into my classroom without having eaten anything since lunch the previous day. Child hunger is a serious problem that negatively affected my student's self-esteem, ability to learn, and behavior. I would always keep snacks in my class for students who were hungry and having trouble concentrating during instructional time."
“Hunger In Our Schools: Teachers’ Report 2013,” surveyed more than 1,200 K-8 teachers and principals nationwide and found that:
- Three out of four K-8 public school teachers and principals see kids who regularly come to school hungry.
- On average, teachers spend $37 a month buying food for hungry students—up from $26 a month in 2012. Principals report buying food for students often and spending about $60 a month.
- Of the more than 21 million low-income kids in the U.S. who rely on a free or reduced-price school lunch, only half – about 11 million – are also getting a school breakfast.
- More than half of teachers report seeing behavior and health improvements in students since implementing breakfast in the classroom programs.
- On average, teachers say eating breakfast in the classroom takes about 15 minutes in the morning.
NEA HIN has worked with NEA affiliates in thirteen states to implement local Breakfast in the Classroom programs. We have seen the difference breakfast makes in helping students stay alert and grow strong. As you can see in this short video, NEA leaders agree that Breakfast in the Classroom produces real benefits for kids.
Breakfast is brain power and NEA HIN and Share Our Strength want to help increase school breakfast participation at your school. Check out our free resource, the Start School With Breakfast Guide which provides the benefits of school breakfast and add your school to the map of school breakfast programs across the country.
As summer comes to an end, I look forward to another great back to school season. This time of year is always full of new beginnings. Whether it’s a new class of students, a newly renovated school building or a new job there are lots of things to be excited about.
NEA HIN has some great NEW resources for educators. You can order these and all of your favorite NEA HIN resources using our online store. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Rx for Understanding (Grades 9-12) – This resource is a standards-based, cross-curricular teaching guide geared for students in grades 9-12. It contains 10 lessons that give students an opportunity to learn key concepts about the misuse, abuse, and proper use of prescription drugs.
- Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives 2013® – This resource was developed for educators to help support your ongoing efforts to teach students about being healthy. Parents, after-school programs, and caregivers can also use the materials in the program.
- How YOU Can Support Healthy Schools – This resource has simple steps you can take to support healthy food choices at your school.
NEA HIN also wants to acknowledge the 2013 NEA HIN Champions. NEA HIN “Champions” are NEA leaders who believe and are willing to help spread the word that students need to be healthy to learn and thrive. Join us in acknowledging these Champions by sharing their inspiring stories. If you are interested in becoming a NEA HIN Champion please email email@example.com.
- Kathryn Castle
- Cathy Koehler
- Carolyn Doggett
- Brent McKim
- Elizabeth “Liz” Foster
- Princess Moss
- Sherry J. Morgan
- Carolyn Smith-Evans
- Pat Nicholson
- Donna Nielsen
- Tom Nicholas
Have a happy back to school season from NEA HIN!
Thanks to the hard work and determination of educators and advocates across the country there is a lot to report about in school breakfast land. At NEA HIN, an important part of our school breakfast work is supporting educators as well as NEA state and local associations to advocate for and implement alternative breakfast programs. Here’s a quick run through of our top breakfast news:
- Arkansas – Cathy Koehler is not only President of the Little Rock Education Association but is one of the biggest supporters of Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) in her school district. In recognition of her service to students and school health, Cathy was named one of Action for Health Kid’s Healthy School Heroes. Cathy was also a 2013 NEA HIN Champion. You can read more about her dedication to healthy and safe schools here.
- Colorado – Recently, important breakfast legislature titled, “Breakfast After the Bell” was put into law requiring Denver Public Schools to serve a nutritious after-the-bell breakfast if 80 percent or more of the student body is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The bill was supported by the Colorado Education Association and it is estimated that more than 80,000 additional students will now receive the benefits of breakfast. Click here to read more about NEA HIN’s BIC program in Denver.
- Connecticut – NEA HIN has been working closely with our friends at the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) to help increase school breakfast participation. At a recent state breakfast summit hosted by End Hunger CT, Sheila Cohen, President of CEA spoke passionately about how hunger hurts and impedes a student's ability to learn. She and the CEA Board of Directors also voted to publicly support ‘Breakfast in the Classroom’ and urged schools to participate in the program. You can read more about the ongoing breakfast work in Connecticut here.
- Illinois - The Illinois State Board of Education announced the winners of the Illinois School Breakfast Challenge, showcasing the link between a nutritious breakfast and classroom performance. Schools from across the state were awarded cash prizes for boosting their daily breakfast participation rates. Two of the schools to win an award were Harriet Gifford Elementary and Sheridan Elementary in Elgin, IL. Both schools were funded by NEA HIN and the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. Click here to learn more about NEA HIN’s BIC program in Elgin.
Last but not least, you can click here to watch NEA HIN’s new Breakfast in the Classroom video. Learn more about how educators are making a difference in ending child hunger and share the video with your friends and colleagues. Stay connected to NEA HIN on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what breakfast news is happening in your school district!
Since I started working on NEA HIN’s Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program in 2012, I have met passionate educators who are extraordinary leaders and advocates for hungry children. Below are a few of our 2013 NEA HIN Champions who have been instrumental in promoting the work and mission of NEA HIN by helping to ensure that every child starts the school day ready to learn.
President, Elgin Teachers Association
As President of the Elgin Teachers Association, Kathryn Castle has served as a “School Breakfast Champion” for hungry children. Her school district was chosen as one of ten districts across the country to receive funding from the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom program to implement a Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) project this past school year. Kathryn stated, “We had 10 of our district's more than 50 schools participate in bringing better service and nutrition to our students. The effort emphasized collaboration of all members of those school communities, from students to staff and parents.” To read more about Kathryn click here.
President, Little Rock Education Association
Little Rock, Arkansas
Since the start of her career, Cathy Koehler has been a health and safety advocate. As President of the Little Rock Education Association, she has been involved with NEA HIN in many different programs. Cathy was one of the earliest adopters of NEA HIN’s Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program and helped to bring her district on board. “From the start, BIC has encouraged and built collaboration in our schools, district, and community among the administration, the school board, community partners, and our association. Through engagement of this network, BIC has spread into more of the district's schools, providing every student at the sites with equal access and opportunity for a tasty, nutritious breakfast that will help them as they go about their school day.” To read more about Cathy click here.
President, Jefferson County Teachers Association
Brent McKim has always understood the importance of good health and nutrition on student's academic success. As President of the Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA), Brent has been involved with NEA HIN for many years. To read more about Brent click here.
Elizabeth “Liz” Foster
President, Guilford County Association of Educators
Greensboro, North Carolina
Elizabeth “Liz” Foster has always gone above and beyond to help those in need. As the economy crashed, Liz witnessed firsthand the impact of food insecurity among NEA members, children and families in her school district. “I felt that our local association needed to reach out and help our community through innovative programs and to do what is best for children.” Through her leadership and determination as President of the Guilford County Association of Educators, Liz helped bring NEA HIN’s Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program to twelve schools in her district. The program now provides more students with the nutritious breakfasts they need at the start of the school day. To read more about Liz click here.
Sherry J. Morgan
President, Knox County Education Association
Sherry Morgan is an advocate for hungry students in her school district. As President of the Knox County Education Association, Sherry has worked with NEA HIN on the Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) Program. Sherry says, “As a result of this collaboration, more than 2,245 students are eating breakfast because of this program.” To learn more about Sherry click here.
What a great day we had today! We met over 600 additional educators in the Hall of Health and Safety. We gave away hundreds of publications and our partners reached thousands of NEA members with valuable information and resources. You can see our pictures on Facebook and Twitter. And don't forget to visit Bag the Junk on Facebook to see all the wonderful carrot pictures in support of healthy school food. They will be up next week.
Thanks to everyone who visited and stopped to join the health and safety movement. We will be working hard all year to make sure that every student and educator has a safe school environment and can make healthy choices every day.
See you next year in Denver.
You’ve heard the numbers and seen the statistics; 16 million children (about 1 in 5) live in food insecure households in the United States. Hunger can be found in every state, and NEA members see hungry children in their classrooms every day.
Educators are changing the conversation on child hunger and taking a stand against hunger by supporting programs like Breakfast in the Classroom. NEA HIN is pleased to release a new video that highlights the roles educators are playing to ensure their students have the healthy, nutritious food they need to be successful.
Since working at NEA HIN, I have been amazed by the dedication and determination of NEA members to help solve America’s toughest challenges, including child hunger. Educators like:
- Hannah McClorin, a Food Service Manager at Carrollton Elementary School in Maryland, feeds over 500 students a day through a Grab n’ Go universal breakfast model.
- Debra Hufschmitt, a Third Grade Teacher at Sedgefield Elementary School in North Carolina, participates in a breakfast in the classroom program. Since the program started she no longer sees her students coming into class with headaches and stomach aches.
- Mark Jewell, Vice President of the North Carolina Association of Educators, is an advocate for hungry children. He has spoken out about child hunger and knows that children cannot learn when they are hungry.
These are just a few of the voices featured in our new video. Help us spread the word and consider sharing this video with your networks. Together, we can end child hunger.
The NEA Expo opened this morning in Atlanta, Georgia and the Hall of Health and Safety was soon humming with activity. NEA educators coming to the hall were able to visit the booths of NEA HIN, our Bag the Junk project, and our Hall of Health and Safety partners.
Among the highlights of the day were the over 1000 educators who learned about new NEA HIN resources like The Food Allergy Book, Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives (2013), and Rx for Understanding: Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse. They also learned about our new online store. Other visitors learned about our Crisis Guide and the new Jerald L. Newberry School Safety Fund.
We had visits today from a number of NEA HIN Champions who are leading actions, large and small to create healthy and safe schools. And visitors to the NEA HIN booth got the chance to spin our prize wheel where everyone is a winner!
If you are in Atlanta at the Expo, please joins us on July 2 for the second and final day of the NEA Expo. We hope to see you there.
The Elgin Teachers Association has been instrumental in working with the school district to champion the Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program. Recently, I was able to catch up with Kathryn Castle, President of the Elgin Teachers Association to hear about the recent BIC media event that took place at Harriet Gifford Elementary School and find out how the program is going. Here’s what she had to say:
1. Tell us about your visit to Harriett Gifford Elementary School and what you saw?
KC: I had the pleasure of sitting in on a 2nd grade classroom. The teachers and students were all very much in a routine for their classroom breakfast. The students were eating without needing assistance or encouragement. While students were eating, other routines continued in preparation for the learning that was to follow.
2. What feedback did you hear from the teachers and school staff about BIC?
KC: A lot of teachers stated that it was a rocky start, as all new processes are, but that things now are now running smoothly. Teachers appreciate being able to express their concerns and opinions about the program and feel that overall students are engaged in the routines and are prepared to learn.
3. Why did ETA want to be involved in bringing the BIC program to Elgin U-46 School District?
KC: The teachers and our school families are a community that comes together in the best interests of our children. We need to support each other in any way we can if our schools are to succeed in providing the best learning environments. The ongoing challenges to bring quality schools to all neighborhoods need the collaborative efforts of many. This project provided the teachers to not only impact the lives of their students, but also allowed their input on how best to make this work in each classroom.
4. Growing up what was your favorite breakfast food?
KC: Snap, Crackle and Pop were always my friends at the breakfast table!
Elgin U-46 School District in Elgin, IL is one of 10 schools districts chosen to receive funding from the Walmart Foundation to increase the number of students participating in the school breakfast program. To learn more about the BIC Program in Elgin, check out Part 1 of our spotlight on their district.
ETA and the Illinois Education Association (IEA) have been valued partners in the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom program. To learn more about ETA visit http://theeta.org/ and to learn more about IEA visit http://www.ieanea.org/.
To learn more about the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom visit www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.
At Harriet Gifford Elementary School in Elgin, IL Captain Nutrition (a super-hero banana), showed up earlier this month to greet students in the morning and help them get ready for the most important meal of the day, breakfast.
Thanks to a program called Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), more than 6,300 students at 10 Elgin U-46 School District elementary and middle schools are now offered a free breakfast in their classrooms at the start of the school day. These schools include: Harriett Gifford Elemetary, Channing Elementary, Garfield Elementary, Huff Elementary, Laurel Hill Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Parkwood Elementary, Sheridan Elementary, Washington Elementary, and Ellis Middle School.
Despite the fact that 52% of students in the district qualify for free and reduced-price meals last year, only 18% were actually eating the morning meal. Students are less likely to participate in a cafeteria-based breakfast program because of late bus arrivals, pressure to get into the classroom or the “stigma” associated with eating in the cafeteria in the morning.
However, this year breakfast participation has substantially increased in the 10 schools offering the classroom-based meal program. The district has even received feedback from school staff that there has been fewer visits by students to the school nurse’s office and that student are more focused and ready to learn.
Recently, the school district celebrated their BIC program with an event at Harriet Gifford Elementary School. Want to know more about the event? Check out Part 2 of our spotlight on Elgin, IL to find out what happened from Elgin Teacher Association President Kathryn Castle.
No experience has ever broadened my perspective the way teaching has. On a daily basis, I bear witness to the small miracles happening in and around my school by the people doing incredible work on behalf of our students and their families. At the same time however, I am also witness to some of the gross injustices in my community that make social, economic, and academic mobility so difficult.
I remember Tyrone, a tall, confident student who is as loquacious as he is bright, walking into my classroom with three bags of salt & vinegar chips, a donut, and a can of Coke at 7:30 in the morning. Initially, I thought of this as simply a one-off occurrence—nothing more than a young boy with teenage taste buds reveling in the freedom to have chips for breakfast every once in a while—harmless. As the days and weeks went on however, the presence of chips, candy, and donuts dangling from Tyrone’s fingers became a classroom staple along with his inability to stay awake in class. “Tyrone, how can you eat such junk so early in the morning?”
“I mean, it’s not like there’s anything else to eat,” he responded matter-of-factly. Taken aback I asked, “Surely you could have gotten some fruit—an apple, a banana, some oranges?” With unapologetic pragmatism, Tyrone replied. “Where would I get that from? There are no grocery stores around here, and these gas stations don’t sell fruit. Come on, Mr. Smith.”
23.5 million Americans live in food deserts, which disproportionately exist in communities of color. Having never lived outside of this neighborhood, my student, Tyrone knows no other reality. Unaware of the correlation between access to healthy food and skin color, he has yet to realize the deep connection between his zip code and his health.
What my kids do or do not eat affects how they are able to perform when they come to my class. Where grocery stores do or do not decide to build affects the health of my students and their families. What places do or do not accept WIC and food stamps affects the life expectancies of the residents in a community.
Whether it is Tyrone, Briana, Jose, or Olivia, the unwarranted difficulty that so many students in low-income neighborhoods experience accessing healthy food has pervasive effects on their ability to succeed academically.
As an educator, I have seen my role in the classroom expand. While some may perceive us as solely academic facilitators, we are also spokespersons for our students and their causes. We champion not only their intellect, but also their well-being.
Please watch "Place Matters" by Clint Smith and share!
Clint Smith is a teacher at Parkdale High School in Prince George's County, Maryland. Clint was also awarded the 2013 Christine D. Sarbanes Maryland Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council.
This blog originally posted on May 2nd, 2013
I am looking forward to Friday because it’s the 2nd Annual Connecticut School Breakfast Summit! I’ll be in Hartford, CT to join teachers, administrators, community members, food service directors and school nurses to learn about how the School Breakfast Program can foster student academic achievement.
Sponsored by CT No Kid Hungry Campaign, this year’s Summit looks fantastic and will feature Sheila Cohen, President of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA). We are thrilled to be working with CEA and look forward to partnering with them on future breakfast-related projects.
On the agenda are also some great breakout sessions. I will be speaking at a breakout session from 1:05pm-1:45pm on promoting, marketing and increasing participation in school breakfast programs. Joining me to co-present are our partners from the Food Research and Action Center, End Hunger Connecticut! and Share Our Strength. For more information about the School Breakfast Summit visit www.ctschoolbreakfast.org.
I remember one time in high school, sitting at my tiny desk in English class, listening to my classmates recite the famous balcony scene from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” I recall being surprisingly excited about having to read Old English and wanting to know more about the fate of those “star crossed lovers.” This moment still stands out in my mind. Why? Because I had Mr. Berry as my English teacher and he inspired me to love Shakespeare and motivated me to want to learn!
We at NEA HIN have the privilege of working with dedicated educators from around the country. These men and women not only care about their students’ academic success, but also their overall health and wellbeing.
Through NEA HIN’s Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program, we are working with educators to help tackle the issue of child hunger. In the U.S., over 16 million children are food insecure. This number translates into 1 in 5 students who do not have access to healthy, nutritious food. Child hunger is a solvable problem, and teachers are working to end hunger by ensuring that all of their students have access to school breakfast. Through the BIC program, over 70,000 additional students have been able to reap the benefits of the most important meal of the day. These educators are making a difference and are my superheroes!
So often, the important job of educators is ignored. While it is easy to turn on the TV and hear someone lambasting educators, it is harder to find evidence that teachers are superheroes with super powers that can make any subject seem interesting—and who go the extra mile to help students thrive. They may not have a capes or flashy costumes, but educators are rising to a superhero challenge every single day.
This year, don’t forget to thank a teacher. NEA’s Classroom Superheroes campaign allows parents, students, and community members to show educators the support they deserve. Find out more and then nominate your classroom superheroes. You can even send an appreciation message on Twitter. Be sure to use the hash tag #thankateacher.
Tell us who are the teachers that inspired you? And to all educators, we at NEA HIN wish you a Happy Teacher Day!
March has been quite an exciting month thanks to National School Breakfast Week and National Nutrition Month! We are thrilled with the advocacy we have seen, heard and read about in support of school breakfast to help students learn.
This month, teachers, principals, custodians, food service workers, paraeducators and NEA leaders around the country are standing up to demonstrate their commitment to hungry children and school breakfast. With all of the recent data linking breakfast to higher school attendance, math scores and graduation rates, it's no surprise that lots of people are taking notice!
Here is a list of our top 5 favorite National School Breakfast Week stories. Let us know which one you like best!
- Dallas rocks school breakfast! The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) recently voted to combat hunger by bringing breakfast into the classroom for all of its 157,000 students. DISD was one of our first Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) districts to come on board thanks to the support of NEA Dallas. This great video from the Egg Nutrition Center (ENC) Teacher-Exchange shows the BIC program in action.
- Little Rock knows the importance of school breakfast! Little Rock Education Association (LREA) President Cathy Koehler is a champion for ending child hunger in her district. She has been spreading the word about the importance of BIC and in this video she partners with No Kid Hungry Arkansas to highlight the BIC program at Franklin Elementary in Little Rock, AR.
- Colorado supports Breakfast in the Classroom! Colorado Education Association (CEA) President Kerrie Dallman and Vice President Amie Baca-Oehlert share breakfast with kindergarteners at Dupont Elementary in Commerce City. CEA promotes BIC as an effective way to improve student health and achievement. This video shows both Kerrie and Amie in action and helping out with breakfast after the bell!
- Give every child a free breakfast! John Wilson wrote a great blog for Education Week about raising the consciences of decision-makers to make new commitments to implement breakfast programs that feed every child in our schools.
- School breakfast matters! National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel says, “Over 16 million children are food insecure, but if we work together, we can change the lives of students affected by hunger.” Check out his call to action!
I remember the students who came to my class without eating breakfast. They were tired, unable to concentrate and always asking to visit the nurse’s office. These children thought more of their next meal than geometry or algebra. As a former math teacher with 23 years in the classroom, I have seen too many children struggle because of hunger. As president of the National Education Association, I hear from teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians and other school employees who see the faces of malnourished children every day and cannot stand idle.
No child deserves to go hungry. At the start of this school year, I challenged us as a nation to tackle the scourge of child hunger. Over 16 million children are food insecure. That’s more than 1 in 5 children in the United States who do not have access to adequate, nutritious food. March, which began with National School Breakfast Week, is a good time to remind people that child hunger exists and is a solvable problem – if we work together.
The NEA Health Information Network and School Nutrition Foundation along with the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom are making inroads by working to end hunger in schools across the country. These groups are modifying the federally-funded School Breakfast Program to provide breakfast to students in their classrooms at the start of the school day. To date, Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) has enabled over 70,000 students to reap the benefits associated with the most important meal of the day. The program is successful because everyone in the school building is united under a shared goal: changing the lives of students affected by hunger.
Research shows that students who eat school breakfast attend 1.5 more days of school per year and achieve a whopping 17.5 percent higher score in math, according to a new report from Share Our Strength. This report also found that students who attend class regularly have a 20 percent higher rate of graduating high school, which translates into higher wages and higher employment. Good nutrition is an integral part of a child’s overall success. This report provides further proof of the undeniable connection between good health and learning.
Fighting child hunger requires a holistic approach, from support programs like BIC and sharing resources that increase knowledge about this issue, to protecting federal food assistance services like the School Breakfast Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. These nutrition and safety net programs are vital to our children’s future, and we cannot afford to lose them as Congress hammers out a solution to budget-slashing “sequestration” cuts.
The political issues being debated on Capitol Hill can be complex; the solution to hunger is not. NEA is proud to support initiatives that increase student participation in school breakfast, because our children are counting on us.
Dennis Van Roekel is president of the National Education Association and an NEA HIN Board Member.
This blog was adapted from a post that appeared on the School Nutrition Foundation’s website Beyond Breakfast.
|Colorado Education Association President Kerrie Dallman and Vice President Amie Baca-Oehlert serve breakfast after the bell to a Kindergarten class at Dupont Elementary in Commerce City (just north of Denver) during a Read Across America event.|
National School Breakfast Week may almost be over but we are committed to spreading the importance of school breakfast every day! In case you missed it, we had a terrific guest blog from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel who reminded us that although hunger exists it is a solvable problem - if we work together. Also, John Wilson, a longtime friend of NEA HIN, wrote a fantastic blog for Education Week about making new commitments to implement breakfast programs that feed every child in our schools. To see all of our School Breakfast Week information check out our webpage here.
Through working with various partners such as the Food Research and Action Center, National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, School Nutrition Foundation and Share Our Strength we have also been able to shine a spotlight on so many school districts who are working together to promote school breakfast as a way to combat child hunger.
Last week, a lot happened! We celebrated the National Education Association's Read Across America Day, and we also partnered with Share Our Strength on two media events to promote their new report: Ending Child Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis. This report finds federal programs like school breakfast are important in the fight to end childhood hunger. You can download the report from our School Breakfast Week page.
The first media event happened in Annapolis, Maryland with the Maryland State Education Association and the second took place in Little Rock, Arkansas with the Little Rock Education Association. These events also promoted our partnership and work to increase school breakfast participation. Here is a recap of all we've been up to recently:
- Last week, schools around the country celebrated the importance of reading through various Read Across America events. NEA Executive Committee Member Princess Moss shared her favorite books to read to students over breakfast and Colorado Education Association President Kerrie Dallman and Vice President Amie Baca-Oehlert served breakfast to students at a Read Across America event outside Denver, Colorado! Check out the great picture of Kerrie and Amie serving up a nutritious breakfast to students.
- Annapolis, Maryland: Gov. Martin O’Malley joined students and anti-hunger advocates at Eastport Elementary for a breakfast celebration. Gov. O’Malley has included $1.8 million dollars in his proposed budget towards expanding Maryland Meals for Achievement, a program that feeds breakfast to students. Maryland State Education Association Vice-President Cheryl Bost spoke about the importance of programs like Maryland Meals for Achievement, “Sometimes the conversation focuses on so much of the big and abstract issues and reforms that we overlook the simple straightforward programs like Meals for Maryland.” To see more about the event click here.
- Little Rock, Arkansas: First Lady Ginger Beebe joined education leaders and anti-hunger advocates to discuss the impact of school breakfast on academic achievement. Cathy Koehler, President of the Little Rock Education Association was among the advocates who spoke about her involvement with programs like Breakfast in the Classroom, “As an educator, I’ve seen the difference school breakfast and healthy food skills make in a child’s life. Knowing they can start the day with the fuel they need to learn gives students a leg-up every day.” Little Rock, AK was one of the first five districts selected by the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom to receive a grant to implement breakfast in the classroom. Cathy is a true champion for hungry children in Arkansas and even wrote an Op-Ed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the importance of school breakfast.
If you would like to get involved in increasing school breakfast participation at your school, get a copy of our Start School with Breakfast Guide. This publication was created in partnership with Share Our Strength to promote alternative breakfast models.
The NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) loves Education Support Professionals (ESPs) almost as much as we love school breakfast! In honor of National School Breakfast Week, NEA HIN wants to acknowledge the many roles that ESPs play in order to make programs like Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) successful:
- Custodial and Maintenance Services – These men and women guard school cleanliness and take care of trash removal, pests and recycling. They play a huge role in making sure breakfast in the classroom is not a mess!
- Food services – Not just your typical lunch ladies! These men and women ensure that students have the brain food and fuel they need to be successful. They provide school breakfast, lunch, snack, supper and love to students.
- Health and student services – This job group encompasses school nurses, wellness professionals and parents. They support student health both in and outside of the school building.
- Paraeducators – Assist with instructional and non-instructional support. They play a critical role in improving student achievement and help make sure students get the proper nutrition they need in the morning.
- Transportation Services – These individuals help with getting students to-and-from school safely every day. They look out for students before and after the school day.
ESPs are on the front lines of hunger and know which students and families are food insecure. On average, 20.3 million children get a free or reduced-price lunch on a typical school day but only 9.8 million children get a free or reduced-price breakfast. By transitioning to a service model that provides breakfast in the classroom, schools can increase participation, increase revenue, and improve the health and well-being of their students.
NEA HIN works closely with ESPs in our BIC program to ensure that they have a voice in how the program is implemented and provide training to avoid issues at the onset. ESPs have told us that BIC does not create extra work but does require changes to the start of the school day and establishing a new routine.
If you are an ESP and interested in brining Breakfast in the Classroom to your school district we can help you! Here are some initial steps you can take to get involved in combating child hunger:
- Use our “Start School with Breakfast Guide” and learn about the benefits of school breakfast, new ways to increase school breakfast participation, useful tools for advocates and success stories from other districts.
- Speak with your school nutrition director or school administrator about getting Breakfast in the Classroom at your school.
- Talk to your school’s health and wellness committee. Find out who is on the team and how nutrition policies are instituted at your school or in your district.
- Find out what other schools are doing and model your program based on the ideas that you like and think would work in your school.
- Organize! Health and safety issues such as hunger affect 1 in 5 children in the United States. Contact your local association and rally around this important issue.
Also, if you are an ESP attending NEA’s National ESP Conference on March 8-10, in Louisville, KY look for our session on Breakfast in the Classroom. We will be sharing strategies for overcoming obstacles and discussing ways to expand school breakfast programs in school districts. We will be joined by ESPs from Jefferson County, Kentucky and Des Moines, IA who successfully implemented a Breakfast in the Classroom program. We will be posting via social media from the conference using the hashtag #2013NEAESP.
For more information about National School Breakfast Week visit us at www.neahin.org/schoolbreakfastweek. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We are using the hashtags #lovebreakfast and #NSBW13.
It’s a chilly Tuesday morning and students at Carrollton Elementary School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, file off their buses and into the cafeteria in orderly lines. Gloves come off of little hands as little feet march up to a cart where the children are handed a hot breakfast to carry to their classrooms and eat at their desks. It’s all part of the school’s new Breakfast in the Classroom program.
“Good morning! Good morning!” the food service personnel call out as they hand each student a bag packed with a turkey sausage biscuit, an apple, a carton of milk and orange juice. (There’s also a cereal option for kids with food intolerances.)
One student in a dark blue parka holds the warm bag up to his nose, closes his eyes and breathes deep. “Yum!” he says.
“I have no children of my own, and it just warms my heart to see the happy young faces when they get their breakfasts,” says Ann Peltier, who has worked in the Carrollton Elementary School cafeteria for 35 years. “They give you all sorts of hugs! It’s wonderful.”
Carrollton Elementary School is part of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), one of fifteen school districts in the nation participating in the Breakfast in the Classroom initiative, a partnership between 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.
Research has shown that providing breakfast at school is essential – too many children arrive at school hungry, having had no breakfast at home. When their stomachs are empty, their attention spans shorten, their energy levels plummet, their productivity wanes, and their learning suffers. But when students are able to eat the most important meal of the day, they have sharper memory, improved focus and behavior, and higher scores on tests.
“When you feed the body, you feed the mind,” says Carrollton Elementary Principal Brian Gallbraith.
The federally-funded School Breakfast Program was designed to provide disadvantaged students with a nutritious breakfast, but less than half of children who are eligible for the free or reduced-cost breakfast were actually eating it.
That’s because school breakfast programs typically require children to eat in the cafeteria before school, apart from their peers. A lot of the children feel singled out and self-conscious -- they’re worried about being labeled as “low income.”
Timing is another deterrent. Many school breakfast programs take place before the start of the school day, and if the bus is late or the carpool gets caught in traffic, the opportunity for breakfast is missed.
Breakfast in the Classroom removes those barriers. First, it’s available to everyone – no matter their income level. Second, it’s eaten after the opening bell when students are seated at their desks. This makes it possible for all children in the class to participate – even those running a little late will still have time to take advantage of the “grab and go” bags. They eat their breakfasts while the teacher takes attendance, collects homework or teaches a short lesson plan.
Michelle Charity says her third graders at Carrollton Elementary are more productive and less listless now that they are all eating a nutritious meal at the start of the day.
“They’re ready for the day, and they can concentrate all morning because they’re not watching the clock and waiting for lunch,” she says. “It gets their mind active and fuels it for learning.”
Eight-year-old Emani Nichols agrees. “I love having breakfast in the classroom,” she says. “It gives my brain enough energy for thinking.”
This week happens to be National School Breakfast Week – a time when teachers, parents, students and staff come together to celebrate the importance of the most important meal of the day. Join the party by checking out NEA HIN’s resources and use our hashtag #lovebreakfast.
We had a great week and next week is going to be even better.
Bette Simpson's piece on giving talked about the unexpected benefits of volunteering and donating.
On Wednesday, we kicked off our celebration of National School Breakfast Week with this blog from Annelise Cohon. National School Breakfast Week starts Monday, March 4th. Visit our NSBW page for more information.
Today is March 1st so remember to wind your watches and get ready for start of National Nutrition Month and National School Breakfast Week!
More than 16 million children in the U.S. struggle with hunger, or one out of five American kids. Teachers see this hunger first-hand in their classrooms. In a recent survey, three out of five K-8 public school teachers said they taught kids who regularly came to school hungry because they weren’t getting enough to eat at home.
What if I told you that there was a solution? There is, and it’s called school breakfast.
Anecdotally, we constantly hear of schools that serve breakfast to all their kids, but only during testing week because educators acknowledge the connection between breakfast and success. New analysis released by Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign backs up that connection with research showing that the simple act of feeding kids a healthy school breakfast has the potential for a dramatic impact on their academic, health and economic futures.
In “Ending Child Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis,” a new report by Deloitte and the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices, data underscores the fact that federal programs like school breakfast are not only important in the fight to end childhood hunger, but also have potential long term positive impacts on academic achievement and job readiness. Deloitte analyzed publicly available data and academic research findings and found that, on average, students who eat school breakfast have been shown to achieve 17.5% higher scores on standardized math tests and attend 1.5 more days of school per year.
These impacts have potential long-term economic benefits as well. Students who attend class more regularly, for example, are 20% more likely to graduate from high school. High school graduates typically earn $10,090 more per year and enjoy a 4% higher employment rate.
You can see the ripple effect. These factors can create transformative, positive change in America, since a student who eats school breakfast is put on a path to do better in school, leading to greater self-sufficiency after high school and, therefore, become less likely to struggle with hunger during their lifetime.
Educators like you are on the frontlines of fighting hunger and see kids struggling often. One elementary school teacher in Maryland commented, “One of my students this year came up to me during a test and said she was having trouble. When I asked her which question she needed help with, she answered, “I don’t need help with the questions. I need help because I’m hungry and I can’t think.”
You can take action—here are three things you can do:
- Add Your Community to The National School Breakfast Map: We’re building a map that paints an unprecedented view of school breakfast programs across the country. Get more impact information and add your community at NoKidHungry.org/Breakfast.
- Join Team No Kid Hungry: You can help surround kids with healthy food where they live, learn and play. Pledge to make No Kid Hungry a reality at NoKidHungry.org.
- Learn What Is Working on School Breakfast: The No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices offers a wide variety of information about the school breakfast program and how participation is being increased across the country. Learn more at BestPractices.NoKidHungry.org.
Have we got news for you! Not only is National School Breakfast Week coming up on March 4-8, but we have lots of great resources to help make your March all about breakfast:
- Check out our School Breakfast Week webpage – We have put together a list of materials and information so that you can find what you need to know about the importance of school breakfast.
- Included is a NEW report from Share Our Strength: “Ending Child Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis” that finds federal programs like school breakfast are important in the fight to end childhood hunger. Check out the report and infographic!
- Use our resource “Start School with Breakfast”, to help increase school breakfast participation in your school!
- Check out what books NEA Executive Committee Member Princess Moss likes to read to students over breakfast.
- Find out what others are saying about school breakfast – NEA HIN has been able to implement a Breakfast in the Classroom program in 12 states and 13 school districts to help connect more students to the morning meal. Learn what our partners have to say about the importance of breakfast!
- Denver, CO loves breakfast! Thanks to our partners at the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, 19 Denver Public Schools are now implementing breakfast in the classroom!
- Kansas City, KS knows breakfast in the classroom makes all students feel equal and reduces stigma. Thanks to the National Education Association of Kansas City, Kansas (NEA KCK) 13 Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools are now serving up breakfast in the classroom!
- Jefferson County, KY is working together with ALL school employees to ensure breakfast in the classroom is a success! We are thrilled to be working with our partners at the Jefferson County Teachers Association to implement breakfast in the classroom at 19 Jefferson County Public Schools!
- Des Moines, IA knows that many students are not able to eat at home. Educators are united under a shared goal to make sure students get the nutrition they need to be successful! Breakfast in the classroom is now being implemented in 12 schools in the district. We love working with our partners at the Des Moines Education Association to spread breakfast in the classroom throughout the district.
- Knox County, TN understands that hungry students cannot learn. Together with the Knox County Education Association and the school district, we rolled out breakfast in the classroom in 17 schools in the district!
- Guilford County, NC knows that it takes a village to feed a hungry child. They are working with community and school partners in their district to help feed breakfast in the classroom to hungry students in 12 Guilford County public schools.
- Prince George's County, MD loves breakfast in the classroom! Check out our visit to Carrollton Elementary to see the program in action!
Together, NEA HIN and our partners are making a difference to end hunger by increasing school breakfast participation. Let us know your plans for National School Breakfast Week by commenting on our Facebook and Twitter page. Don't forget to use our hashtag #lovebreakfast.
The importance of reading is undeniable. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, children who are read to at home enjoy a substantial advantage over children who are not.
At the National Education Association (NEA), we believe that having kids read a lot is one of the crucial components of becoming a good reader. NEA’s Read Across America Day is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading and honor the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.
Last year, Woodville Elementary School, an inner city school in Richmond, VA, invited community leaders to come in and read to students. I joined firefighters, police officers, education and political leaders for this fantabulous event. I so enjoy reading to students, and I'll let you in on a secret - Green Eggs and Ham is one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books. I read the book to a kindergarten class, and it was so much fun to have the students read along with me. Before it was all over, we all were reading and laughing together, “That Sam-I-am, that Sam-I-am!”
As an educator, I know the power of learning when it is accompanied by sound nutrition. Students who eat breakfast at school show improved academic achievement, have better attendance records, are less likely to be tardy and exhibit fewer behavioral and psychological problems.
1 in 5 kids in the United States struggle with hunger according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Child hunger is a serious problem and 3 out of 5 teachers state that they teach kids who regularly come to school hungry, says a recent report from Share Our Strength.
Students cannot learn and be successful if their basic needs are not being met. We as adults don't function at our highest level when hungry, so, why should we expect our students to do so? As someone who understands poverty because I lived it as a child, I know that it is not always easy for a child or the elderly to express their personal needs. This is why I am an avid supporter of the school breakfast and lunch programs and why I donate to Food Banks. I glad that many schools recognize the needs of our students and their families and send a backpack filled with food home with students on weekends. No child or adult should go hungry in the United States of America.
The NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) is working on a program that aims to ensure all children enjoy the academic and health benefits associated with breakfast. That program is called Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) and since 2011, NEA HIN and their partners have fed over 70,000 additional students breakfast! The program has also provided an opportunity for educators to merge breakfast and reading.
I have heard from teachers participating in BIC that read to their students from a picture or chapter book while they are eating. Other paraeducators have told me that they allow students time for self-selected silent reading while they eat. Integrating breakfast and reading into the classroom is a win-win for educators and students. NEA HIN has a great resource that provides educators with tips and ideas for student activities to incorporate during breakfast.
This year, as many of you celebrate Read Across America, visit your local public library and check out some of my favorite books to read over breakfast. You can find the full list of books to read over breakfast from NEA HIN here. Happy eating and happy Read Across America Day!
My favorite books to read to children from preschool to age 8:
- Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak
- Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
- Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
My favorite books to read to children from ages 9-12:
- Blue Potatoes, Orange Tomatoes: How to Grow a Rainbow Garden by Rosalind Creasy
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids by Michael Pollan
“Breakfast makes me think better” says Daniel, a student from Cochran Elementary in Louisville, KY. Cochran is one of 19 Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) selected to receive a grant to implement breakfast in the classroom.
From the teachers to the custodians, food service workers and principals, everyone in Jefferson County is working together to ensure that no child starts the school day hungry." We could not be happier with the fact that our students are full and they are ready to learn and it's because of breakfast in the classroom”, says Cochran Elementary Principal Tim Foster.
In the short time since Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) was implemented this school year, the results have been astounding. According to the district, they're seeing several benefits, including improved attendance and a reduction of behavior referrals and late arrivals.
JCPS was selected to receive a BIC grant because of its high free and reduced student population and strong stakeholder support for the program. 64% of students in JCPS qualify for a free or reduced-price meal, but only a fraction of students were participating in school breakfast. Among one of the earliest supporters of the program, the Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA) championed this initiative.
Brent McKim, President of JCTA, was instrumental in getting the Superintendent and the School Board engaged in the program. He also worked with the district to set up a training for JCTA members at the BIC schools before the program was rolled out. Thanks to the work of Brent and JCTA , teachers and support staff were well prepared and trained on their roles in BIC before the program was implemented. In a recent BIC media event Brent stated, “JCTA is proud to be a sponsor of the BIC program. Our members know that when kids come ready to learn they can be successful. An important part of being ready to learn is having a nutritious breakfast and the best way to ensure kids have a nutritious breakfast is to have it right there in the classroom. That’s what this program is all about.” The support from stakeholders in the school building has made the program a shining example of what a successful BIC program looks like.
Recently, I was able to talk with Brent about BIC and JCTA’s role in the program. Here’s what Brent had to say.
1. How did JCTA first become involved in the BIC program?
Jerry Newberry, the Executive Director of NEA HIN came up to me at NEA’s annual Representative Assembly and said that he needed to talk to me about something. He gave me his business card and told me to call him that evening. When I did, he said that he had a great program called breakfast in the classroom and asked if it was something JCTA would be interested. After he explained the program I felt like I was being asked if I wanted a winning lottery ticket. Later, I spoke with the JCTA board, the Superintendent of JCPS Dr. Donna Hargens and school board members to ensure that the program would happen.
2. What feedback have you heard from the students and school staff about the BIC program?
JCTA board members have been extremely positive about the program. I have received a number of emails from teachers who love BIC. There are some members who have expressed some challenges but we are working with them and the district to resolve any and all issues. Also, I have been able to visit some of the BIC schools and the kids are so excited about the program, they love it.
3. Why did JCTA want to be involved in bringing the BIC program to JCPS?
As I stated earlier, we were very interested in doing BIC because it was not only the right thing to do for kids but JCTA understands the power of good nutrition on students learning.
JCTA worked with NEA HIN to make sure that everyone in the 19 schools was aware of the program and on board from the beginning. With any new program, teachers and school staff need to be involved on the forefront to avoid any potential mishaps. JCTA, JCPS and NEA HIN provided a great BIC training for school staff before the program was implemented. I feel the training was a major reason in the program's success.
Also, the program was an opportunity for us to work in tandem with the school district and food services department. We assigned a UniServ Director to monitor the progress of the program and after the program was rolled out the UniServ Director was able to visit every BIC school and collect feedback from JCTA members. It has been very exciting for us to work on a critical issue like hunger and make a positive impact in our schools and community.
4. Now tell us about yourself! Growing up what was your favorite breakfast food?
Well, I am a High school science teacher and have been President of JCTA since 2001. As a child I probably did not have the most nutritious breakfast I could have. Most mornings I just had cold cereal or a pop tart. As a matter of fact, I might be just a little bit jealous of the kids in the Breakfast in the Classroom program!
Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, KY is one of 10 schools districts chosen to receive funding from the Walmart Foundation to increase the number of students participating in the school breakfast program.
If you want to learn more about BIC and if you are in the Louisville area next month, visit NEA HIN at the National NEA Education Support Professionals Conference. We will be in town from March 8-10 and will be presenting a session on Breakfast in the Classroom. Joining us as a co-presenter for the BIC session is Jeanine Nicole Ross, the Secretary of JCTA.
JCTA and the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) have been valued partners in the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom program. To learn more about the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom visit www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.
"Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day," that’s the March National Nutrition Month 2013 theme. In celebration of the observance we’d like to share three ways you can work to promote good nutrition at your school by increasing access to school breakfast, ensuring all food sold in school is healthy, and encouraging nutrition education and physical activity at school.
(1) Increase access to school breakfast. Research confirms that eating breakfast at school helps children learn. When students are hungry, they struggle academically and are at risk for long-term health issues. In the U.S., 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Below are important resources for teachers, principals and administrators, and parents to increase access to school breakfast and positively impact hunger.
- Teachers: The NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) hears from educators who are on the front lines of hunger. We created the “Start School with Breakfast: A Guide to Increasing School Breakfast Participation” in partnership with Share Our Strength to promote alternative breakfast service models, such as breakfast in the classroom, grab n’ go and 2nd chance breakfast. Within the Guide is information about the benefits of school breakfast, new ways to increase school breakfast participation, useful tools for advocates and success stories from other districts.
- Principals and Administrators: The National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation (NAESPF) has a number of resources for principals implementing breakfast in the classroom programs and for principals interested in getting breakfast in the classroom started in their schools. Also, the American Association of School Administrators’ (AASA) newest publication, School Governance & Leadership, focuses on engaging Superintendents to promote alternative school breakfast programs.
- Parents: Take action in your community and advocate for the health and wellbeing of all children. The National PTA’s “Advocacy Toolkit” is a great resource that provides step-by-step directions to help you reach out to policy makers. Contact your local representative and tell them to protect and expand funding for the School Breakfast Program and other Federal food assistance programs.
(2) Ensure all food in school is healthy. Studies show that the top sources of calories for school-age children and teens are pizza, sugary desserts like cakes and cookies, and sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and fruit drinks. Sadly, this type of unhealthy fare is widely available in U.S. schools.
During the 2009-10 school year, 76% of high school students, 63% of middle school students, and 47% of elementary school students could buy unhealthy snack foods at school. Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, sports drinks, and high-calorie fruit drinks, were also common.
At the same time, research shows that restricting sales of unhealthy snacks and beverages in schools can improve children's diets, reduce weight gain, and even increase school food service revenues.
That’s why NEA HIN launched www.BagtheJunk.org, a new website that aims to educate, mobilize, and empower members of the school community to replace junk snack foods and sugary drinks with healthier options. The site features advocacy tools such as organizing tips, policy briefs, fact sheets, and sample letters along with current news, trends, and thoughts from experts in the field. Through guest blogs the site will also highlight projects from fellow LFA members, such as the American Association for School Administrators School Administrators for HEALing of Our Children and Youth project.
(3) Encourage nutrition education and physical activity. Today, nearly 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese. With childhood obesity at epidemic proportions, building good nutrition habits and physical activity skills must be a part of a well-rounded student education.
To help address this need, NEA HIN created Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives. These lesson plans are standards-based and provide classroom based resources designed to teach healthy eating, exercise, and a strong mind, all of which will help students develop healthy lifestyles.
We’re especially proud that all the lessons in Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives were pilot-tested by real teachers in real classrooms.
Another helpful resource is the National Association of State Boards of Education’s (NASBE) Fit, Healthy, and Ready to Learn series of school health policy guides, including the recently released Policies to Promote Healthy Eating and Policies to Promote Physical Activity and Physical Education chapters.
Good health habits are something to celebrate throughout the year. We hope you will join us—and thousands of educators nationwide—to promote good nutrition at your school! Post on NEA HIN’s Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #schoolfoodsrule and let us know what you plan to do for National Nutrition Month.
More than 12,000 students at 12 local Guilford County Schools in North Carolina will benefit from a nutritious morning meal thanks to the expansion of the Breakfast in the Classroom program (BIC). Funded by the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) and the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, students will now have the opportunity to participate in the free breakfast program, allowing them to reap the nutritional and academic benefits associated with a morning meal.
As a local partner in this initiative, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and the Guilford County Association of Educators (GCAE) are strong supporters of the BIC program. Vice President of NCAE Mark Jewell knows the impact that not having a good breakfast has on student learning. "Studies show that students who eat breakfast do better on tests and are healthier," said Jewell, during a Guilford County BIC event at Sedgefield Elementary School.
Elizabeth “Liz” Foster, President of GCAE has been a strong advocate of the program since the beginning and was vital in garnering the support of her district to take on this initiative. As a former Teacher, Liz knows firsthand that hungry students cannot learn and saw the program as a win-win for students, their families, GCAE members and the community.
As President of GCAE, part of Liz’s strategic plan has to been to heighten the visibility of the association and strengthen community involvement. Since the BIC program started this year, GCAE has been front and center as a leader in the community on this issue. GCAE has been featured in numerous news articles as advocates for the program and Liz has been able to reach out to more community members and foster deeper relationships with families and community partners, such as Second Harvest Food Bank, to combat the issue of childhood hunger.
The BIC program has also had a positive impact on GCAE membership. Liz stated that through BIC “we have been able to show to teachers and school staff that their membership dollars are going directly back into their community.” Liz has heard from numerous people that they did not realize that GCAE or NEA was involved in “these kinds of programs” and that BIC has not only had a positive impact on students in Guilford County but has shown members that their dues are positively impacting the issue of hunger.
|From Left to Right: Liz Foster, President of GCAE; Mark Jewell, Vice-President of NCAE; Mark Stewart, Walmart Market Manager; Angela Brown, Cafeteria Manager and the wonderful Sedgefield Elementary breakfast helpers!|
Additionally, through the BIC program Liz has been able to support families and community members around the issue of food allergies. Liz stated that “through working with NEA HIN and getting to know the many resources and services they offer I have been able to help more members and families in the community on the issue of food allergies among children.” From talking with a local Parent Learning Community, Liz realized the growing concern about food allergies and was able to disseminate NEA HIN’s Food Allergy Guide to English speaking families, Spanish speaking families and day care providers about this issue. Liz says, “The Partnership between NEA HIN and GCAE has been invaluable.”
Recently, Liz was featured as a co-presenter on NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign Department Webinar, “Unleashing the Power of Family-School-Community Engagement to Support Student Academic Achievement”. Liz spoke about her involvement with the BIC Program as an example of a family, school and community partnership. Liz and GCAE understand the importance of community and stakeholder support when tackling an issues like hunger. In order to to ensure that every student starts the day ready to learn Liz states, “we all need to work together.”
Let us know if you have been involved in a family-school-community initiative that addresses the issue of hunger. You can either leave your comment below or post a question to our Facebook or Twitter page. We would love to hear from you!
|A cafeteria worker passes out breakfasts to students in easy to carry bags that they can take to their classroom.|
It’s hard to imagine an Elementary school being quiet and orderly, especially in the morning. However, at Carrollton Elementary in Prince George’s (P.G.) County, Maryland the students know the morning routine. Around 7:00am, students are dropped off by cars and buses and file into the cafeteria without the slightest hint of confusion or commotion. Students wait quietly in the cafeteria for their teachers, and in an orderly manner grab their bagged breakfasts from the friendly cafeteria staff, before heading directly to their classroom. Although this is daily life at Carrollton, I felt like I was witnessing pure magic.
Carrollton Elementary is one of 21 schools in P.G. County that received funding from the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (PBIC) to implement Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC). The school has an enrollment of around 600 students, with the majority of them qualifying for a free or reduce-priced meal. Since the BIC program was implemented in 2011, average daily participation in the school breakfast program has increased exponentially. In 2010, Carrollton was feeding around 100 students school breakfast, but after receiving a BIC grant, they are now feeding over 500 students breakfast daily. The success of the BIC program at Carrollton is extraordinary, but it is also not completely surprising. After spending a morning at the school observing the program, I realized that the key component to their successful BIC program was the teamwork and collaboration between the school staff. The principal, food service staff, teachers and custodians are all committed to working together to ensure that no student starts the day on an empty stomach. They are all united by a common goal, to make sure students are ready to learn and to work together to achieve that goal.
Prince George’s County Public Schools released a press release this week announcing that Carrollton Elementary will be highlighted in a video about breakfast in the classroom. Stay tuned for more information about that video and check out the rest of the photos from my visit to Carrollton Elementary on NEA HIN’s Facebook page.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of school breakfast, new ways to increase school breakfast participation, useful tools for advocates and success stories from other districts check out our Start School with Breakfast Guide.
School Breakfast is an underutilized strategy for making sure that children in America have access to the nutrition they need to live healthy lives. By taking initiative to increase School Breakfast Program participation, educators can help to ensure the program's full potential to impact child hunger can be reached. To learn more about what you can do to end child hunger check out Education Week and the most recent article I wrote in their Transforming Learning Blog.
NEA HIN is taking a stand against child hunger. Join us and spread the word that no student should start the school day with an empty stomach. Message me on Facebook or Twitter if you would like to find out more ways that you can get involved in the fight against child hunger.
This school year 19 Denver Public Schools are participating in a Universal Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program. Thanks to generous support from the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) and the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (PBIC) more students will be able to enjoy the morning meal free of charge.
NEA HIN has been working with Henry Roman, President of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) to help implement BIC. Henry was able to attend yesterday’s BIC media event at Ellis Elementary School along with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Superintendent of Denver Public School Tom Boasberg.
Denver Public Schools in Denver, CO is one of 10 schools districts chosen to receive funding from the Walmart Foundation to increase the number of students participating in the school breakfast program.
DCTA and the Colorado Education Association (CEA) have been valued partners in the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom program. To learn more about DCTA visit http://denverclassroom.org/ and to learn more about CEA visit https://www.coloradoea.org/home.aspx.
To learn more about PBIC visit www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.
Teachers know that many of their students avoid the cafeteria during breakfast because they do not want to be labeled as “low income.” However, teachers and school staff have seen that when breakfast in the classroom is served to ALL students instead of in the lunchroom, kids don't feel embarrassed about eating among their peers. For a high-need school district such as Kansas City, KS (KCK) Public Schools teachers and school staff know their students are hungry and with more than 11,000 kids or 26 percent of students who qualify for the federally-funded school breakfast programs, they noticed that many of them were not eating breakfast. However, thanks to a breakfast in the classroom program in partnership with the NEA Health Information Network, students at 13 KCK Public Schools can now enjoy the morning meal free of charge.
Patricia Hodison, President of the National Education Association of Kansas City, Kansas (NEA KCK) has been a champion of this program from the beginning. She has made it her mission to ensure that more students have an opportunity to enjoy the most important meal of the day and has been working with the district and NEA KCK members to make sure that the program was implemented correctly.
Over the summer Patricia helped to organize a training at Wyandotte Public Library that brought custodians, teachers, education support professionals and food service workers together to be trained on breakfast in the classroom. At the training some teachers from Wyandotte High School showed a video that their students created about the importance of breakfast. The video is awesome and really conveyed to all of the staff at the training how much students wanted and needed the BIC program.
On October 30, the KCK School District hosted a BIC event at Central Middle School to see the program in action. Unfortunately, we could not make the event but we asked Patricia to give us a recap of all the fun that we missed.
1. Can you paint a brief picture of the BIC media event at Central Middle School?
Teacher representatives at Central [Middle School] have been leaders in BIC from the start. They were excited and met with their principal to explain the program to her. So together they put together a cool presentation for the media event starting with an enthusiastic breakfast cheer by their cheerleaders as students entered that morning.
The nutritional service workers already had tubs loaded with milk and breakfast ready to go. Students came in to transport the tubs to each classroom seamlessly. As we walked down the hall teachers were greeting students and you could see kids getting settled in their rooms and picking up their breakfast to chat with classmates and their teachers.
2. What feedback did you hear from the students and school staff about the BIC program?
The kids like it. They like getting to eat breakfast and they love having time to talk to their friends and teacher in the morning. They also love being chosen to deliver the breakfasts and return extras to the cafeteria each day.
Initially, there were a few teachers that were unsure of how this would work, but they are some of the strongest advocates now. Teachers still have their time to prep for class while the kids deliver the meals. Then they get a chance to interact with students without a strict focus on achieving an instructional goal, but just learn who their students are and let their students identify with them as a person.
3. Why did NEA-KCK want to be involved in bringing the BIC program to Kansas City Kansas Public Schools?
Our members see kids come to school hungry every day or snacking on junk food to get through the morning. Many even keep a ‘snack stash’ for students in case a student needs something before lunch. We believed that BIC would ensure everyone ate a healthy meal to start the day, which was most important, but also that it would impact the classroom positively. As we reach out to connect with parents and the community we wanted to be able to tell them that we helped bring this great program to their kids.
4. Now tell us about yourself! Growing up what was your favorite breakfast food?
I always loved a bowl of cereal with milk for breakfast. Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms were my favorites. Now that I eat cereal for breakfast with my own son I have moved on to ‘grown-up’ cereals like raisin bran and cheerios, but still have a bowl of Captain Crunch occasionally!
At the BIC training in Kansas City, KS a group of Educators work together on a group activity.
Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools in Kansas City, KS is one of 10 school districts chosen to receive funding from the Walmart Foundation to increase the number of students participating in the school breakfast program. Breakfast has many benefits and students who participate in school breakfast show improved attendance, behavior, and academic performance as well as decreased tardiness.
NEA KCK and the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA) have been valued partners in the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom program. To learn more about NEA KCK and KNEA visit http://www.knea.org/.
To learn more about the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom visit www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.
November 11-17 is American Education Week (AEW) – a yearly event that celebrates public education and honors individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. The weeklong celebration features a special observance each day, a call to action to teachers and administrators to invite aspiring educators, community leaders, parents and friends into their classrooms, as well as an opportunity to win $5,000 in grant awards.
AEW was established in 1919 by the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Legion during a time when over 25% of the population was illiterate and 9% were physically unfit. Although AEW was originally created as a way to generate public support for education after World War I, it is still relevant today as a way to connect education and health and show how schools can play an important role in tackling health issues affecting young people.
At the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN) our mission is to improve the health and safety of the school community. We empower NEA members to confront the biggest challenges facing students today; including childhood hunger. In 2010, USDA released a report stating that 1 out of every 5 children in the United States—16.2 million children—lived in a household that struggled to afford enough food for all members of the family. For many of these children, the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program supply much of the food they eat during the week. However, due to often unrecognized barriers, less than half of low-income children who are eligible for free or reduced priced school breakfast are participating in the program. We know from NEA members that millions of children are missing out on breakfast and that missing breakfast has negative consequences on their health and academic performance.
Share Our Strength has been a valued partner in NEA HIN’s efforts to eliminate childhood hunger. In 2010 our organizations developed the Start School With Breakfast Guide to help educators and community members increase student participation in the School Breakfast Program. The guide is available to order or download.
Share Our Strength has also been a resource to many of NEA’s local associations as they work collaboratively with their school districts to address the issue of childhood hunger. This year, Share Our Strength announced that they will be expanding their No Kid Hungry Allies program and are looking for additional organizations to join the fight to end childhood hunger. Being a No Kid Hungry Ally holds several benefits including access to financial resources, capacity building, and connecting to a network of peers to share best practices. For more information, go to http://nokidhungry.org/allies.
At NEA HIN, we hope that you take time this week to celebrate public education and educators and think about the role schools can play in tackling the many health problems – including hunger– facing American children and communities. Hunger is a solvable problem and together we can ALL make a difference. Let us know how you plan on celebrating AEW by commenting on our Facebook and Twitter page. We would love to hear from you!
Educators know that many of their students are not able to eat breakfast at home. Whether students come from a family struggling to put food on the table, have parents who work two jobs, or are rushed in the morning to get to school, too many children miss the morning meal.
Greg Harris, Executive Director of the Des Moines Education Association (DMEA), points out that students who do not have a healthy nutritious breakfast are at an “academic disadvantage;” they have more difficulty focusing in class and learning. Greg has been a champion for the NEA HIN sponsored Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program. He helped raise awareness to the issue of hunger in Des Moines Public Schools by organizing a BIC training that prepared educators to implement the program.
The BIC training—on August 9— involved all stakeholders in the school building. Teachers, custodians, principals and school staff sat down, worked together, and decided how BIC would be implemented in their schools.
A group of educators discuss BIC at the training in August
Since August, the education team went into action! Most importantly BIC has been implemented in 12 schools in the district—reaching more than 4,000 students.
On October 25, BIC supporters hosted a public event at Garton Elementary. DMEA Executive Director Greg Harris spoke along with Interim Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools Tom Ahart, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. To view a slide show of photos from the event click here.
We asked Greg Harris and DMEA President Andrew Rasmussen, leaders in the BIC effort, to give us the “skinny” on what we missed.
1. Tell us what you saw when you visited Garton Elementary. Did you talk to any of the students, and if so what did they say about BIC?
GH: [When I arrived at the school] the cafeteria staff was working to get everything set up for the classrooms. Garton [Elementary] uses the hot and cold food carts so the cafeteria staff was lining [the food carts] up in the hallway. The cafeteria staff was very energetic and friendly. I visited the 5th grade classroom of Mrs. Wells. She was standing by a table that was set up in the classroom with the BIC food items. When the students arrived to the classroom they were welcomed by their teacher as they picked up a bag that contained the food items. The students then went to their seats.
AR: The students I talked to said they liked the BIC program and some of the students said they enjoyed talking to their friends [over breakfast].
2. Tell us why DMEA wanted to be involved in bringing BIC to Des Moines Public Schools?
GH: After we heard from the Iowa State Education Association that NEA was sponsoring a BIC program, I thought it would be a good way for us to reach out to children and staff and help feed kids who come to school hungry. There was some resistance from some teachers at first, but that has changed. One teacher who had reservations about the program served as one of the representative for her school and was involved in the [BIC] training.
AR: Working in an urban school district we know how important it is to deal with the effects of childhood poverty which has been increasing. This [program] gives us a chance to be involved on the forefront.
3. Growing up what was your favorite breakfast food?
GH: I attended Harris Elementary in the Pulaski County School District located in North Little Rock, Arkansas. I can remember eating breakfast at school. We had the Hostess Suzy Q’s and milk. My favorite breakfast food is Oatmeal with brown sugar, raisins and cream.
AR: Blueberry Muffins
Two students at Garton Elementary School enjoy breakfast in the classroom!
Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, IA is one of 10 schools districts chosen to receive funding from the Walmart Foundation in a grant to increase the number of students participating in the school breakfast program. Breakfast has many benefits, and studies conclude that students who eat school breakfast increase their math and reading scores, as well as improve their speed and memory in cognitive tests.
DMEA and the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) have been valued partners in the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom program. To learn more about DMEA and ISEA visit http://www.isea.org/home/546.htm. To learn more about the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom visit www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.
What does a teacher say about students eating breakfast in her classroom? "Hungry students can't learn," says Sherry Morgan President of the Knox County Education Association in Tennessee. That's why educators in Knox County are now serving breakfast to students every school morning through the Breakfast in the Classroom program, supported by NEA HIN.
You may remember this article about the breakfast in the classroom training that happened in Knoxville, TN on July 25. The Knox County Education Association (KCEA) invited teachers from the district to learn about breakfast in the classroom (BIC) and to provide valuable feedback and comments to the school district. At the training many teachers expressed their enthusiasm for the program, "I just think it's going to play nicely that we're all doing the same thing and it just fits the routine of the day," said an Elementary teacher. "I like the idea of knowing who's eating and that we've all come together to eat and everybody is the same. It's that equality."
Since the training, the program has been implemented in 17 schools in the district. Recently, a Breakfast in the Classroom media event happened on October 15 at Mooreland Heights Elementary School to celebrate the implementation of BIC. We were so bummed to have missed the event but were able to catch up with KCEA President Sherry Morgan to fill us in on the details!
1. Can you paint a brief picture of the day of the event? What did you see when you visited Mooreland Heights Elementary? Did you talk to any students about BIC?
SM: In a brief picture, [when I visited the classroom] the students were working quietly on a writing assignment. They knew the routine for picking up their breakfast. It did not take away from instructional time. In my speech [to the school], I asked the students if they liked eating breakfast with their teachers, and I got a resounding YES!
2. What did you hear from the students and school staff about BIC?
SM: The students liked eating with their teachers and were not hungry before starting their school work. [The staff noticed that] the students were calmer too!
3. Why did KCEA want to be involved in bringing BIC to Knox County Schools?
SM: KCEA wanted to be involved in the BIC program because BIC helps students academically and physically. Many times, school provides the only meals students receive, and there is documented proof that hungry children are not able to learn.
4. Growing up what was your favorite breakfast food?
SM: Growing up on a farm in Tennessee, my favorite breakfast was scrambled eggs, country ham and homemade biscuits with homemade strawberry jam with milk. We raised or grew everything we ate.
Knox County Schools in Knoxville, TN is one of 10 school districts chosen to receive grant funding from the Walmart Foundation to increase the number of students participating in the school breakfast program. By bringing breakfast into the classroom, studies have shown that student participation in the school breakfast program increases exponentially.
KCEA and the Tennessee Education Association have been valued partners in the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom program. To learn more about KCEA visit http://kceaintouch.org/KCEA/ and to learn more about TEA visit http://www.teateachers.org/.
For information about the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom visit www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.
At the BIC Media Event on Oct. 15 students got to jam with local band Spencer's Own!
We’re presenting about health and safety issues at several conferences this week. Details about where and when are below, please stop by and see us if you’re in town for the conferences! You can also follow NEA HIN through our Facebook and Twitter account.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Putting Locally Grown Food within a Hand’s Reach of Every Student
NEA HIN’s Lisa Sharma Creighton will be speaking about how to improve school nutrition through Farm to School, school gardens and nutrition standards.
Massachusetts Teachers Association ESP Professional Development Workshop (Sturbridge, MA)
- Friday, October 12, 2012
The Whole Child: Three Critical Issues in Student Health
NEA HIN’s Lisa Sharma Creighton will be speaking about using state policy to address childhood obesity in schools.
National Association of State Boards of Education Annual Conference (Chicago, IL)
A Roundtable on Health Indicators in Education Accountability
NEA HIN’s Nora Howley will be speaking along with Bonnie Edmondson (Connecticut Department of Education) and Alexandra Schaible (Healthy Schools Campaign) to discuss how to include health indicators into education accountability systems.
American School Health Association Conference (San Antonio, TX)
- Saturday, October 13, 2012
Creating Health Curriculum Linked to the Common Core
NEA HIN’s Nora Howley will be speaking along with Miecha Galbraith to discuss the alignment of health education with the Common Core Standards.
American School Health Association Conference (San Antonio, TX)
Engaging Multiple Stakeholders and Successfully Implementing Universal Breakfast in the Classroom
NEA HIN’s Annelise Cohon will be speaking about the many benefits of universal breakfast in the classroom and how to engage a range of stakeholders in increasing student breakfast participation at school.
American School Health Association Conference (San Antonio, TX)
What better way to start the school day, or any day for that matter, than with a healthy and nutritious breakfast?! At NEA HIN we are excited to announce that we will be working with the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom in 10 more school districts across the country to help guarantee that all students have access to the most important meal of the day…breakfast!
The districts include: Charleston County School District, S.C.; Denver Public Schools, Colo.; Des Moines Public Schools, Iowa; Elgin School District U-46, Ill.; Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, N.C.; Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Ky.; Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, Kan.; Knox County Schools, Knoxville, Tenn.; and Pinellas County Schools, Largo, Fla. A tenth district will be announced soon.
By working with NEA state and local leaders, we are addressing the issue of childhood hunger and ensuring that students have the nutrients and energy needed to learn. Last year, we worked in five high-needs school districts to help bring breakfast into the classroom. Those districts included: Dallas Independent School District, Texas; Little Rock School District, Ark.; Memphis City Schools, Tenn.; Orange County Public Schools, Fla. (including Orlando); and Prince George's County Public Schools, Md.
With the support of NEA leaders on the ground, we were able to provide breakfast to over 10,000 additional students daily. Here is what Cathy Koehler, President of the Little Rock Education Association had to say about the impact of the program on her district:
Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) has provided Little Rock School District (LRSD) an opportunity to address the diversity of students in the district in a fair and equitable manner. All students regardless of their socio-economic status receive breakfast at no cost at fourteen elementary schools and two early childhood centers. Upon completion of the first full year of BIC implementation teachers have observed an increase in student attentiveness to learning in the morning, there have been less behavioral distractions resulting in student discipline measures, and a decrease in habitual student tardies. BIC afforded LRSD a tool to help address a student need and help students become engaged, successful learners.
NEA members know what the faces of hunger look like and how breakfast is important to all of us. We look forward to feeding additional students this year, and to working with NEA members on the issue of childhood hunger. Jerry Newberry, Executive Director of NEA HIN had this to say about the program:
Educators know that eating breakfast at school helps students perform better. They see students in their classes coming to school hungry, and often spend money out of their own pockets to buy food for students who can’t purchase breakfast. The NEA Health Information Network works across the U.S .with educators to advocate for Breakfast in the Classroom as a way to increase school breakfast participation and improve students’ academic achievement and health. From the five districts NEA HIN worked in last year, we have seen the increase in participation of students in the school breakfast program and the resulting positive outcomes in their classrooms.
For more information about the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom please click here.
For more information about our national media press release please click here.
Since the beginning, NEA HIN has worked closely with partners in the public and private sectors to help create healthier, safer schools. In celebration of our 25th anniversary, we are highlighting some of the partners who are joining us in the Hall of Health on June 30-July 2.
With one in five children in the United States experiencing hunger, NEA HIN is proud to partner with Share Our Strength a national nonprofit that working to end child hunger in America through partnerships with public officials, community and faith-based organizations, and private-sector leaders at the state and city level. One such partnership is Start School with Breakfast a guide to help schools expand participation in their breakfast program. Share Our Strength will be in booth 401 in the Hall of Health. Stop by and find out what you can do to make sure that no child starts the school day hungry or goes to sleep at night without a healthy meal.
Last week the NEA Health Information Network's Lisa Creighton represented NEA HIN at the 2012 NEA Education Support Professionals (ESP) Conference. I sat down with Lisa upon her return to find out more about her experience.
Lisa, tell us about the session you presented at the ESP Conference.
The session was called Healthy Kids Learn Better: How and Why to Improve School Food. I started by talking about the obesity epidemic which is really a big part of the impetus for healthier school food. Then we looked at the Federal guidelines for school meal programs and some of the changes coming because of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act . ESPs need to know this information, but it does not tell them what they can do, so we covered local strategies. These included Farm to School , the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program , school gardens, and Breakfast in the Classroom. This last one is really about increasing participation in the program as well as improving quality.
Your focus was on healthy eating. Can you share some of our member's experiences?
Sure. One custodian really stood out. He was a "food service custodian" working just in the food service area. His school has breakfast in the classroom and he was really positive about it. He said it did not add to his work, just changed it. So instead of cleaning the cafeteria after breakfast, he goes around the building collecting the trash from each classroom. Other participants were really interested in what he was saying.
Another member from New Jersey talked about how her district was trying to make healthier food available, particularly through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
You were also exhibiting. What NEA HIN resource did the attendees get most excited about?
People had lots to say about our shingles book. Many members knew someone who had experienced shingles so they wanted to know how they could reduce their risk. Other popular resources were Start School with Breakfast , Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives , and Tools for Schools. Our lip balm was also very popular because the air in the hotel was so dry.
Were you able to attend any other workshops?
I went to the session on Farm to School Programs presented by the National Farm to School Network and the Massachusetts Teachers Association. People were really excited. A few of the attendees talked about the farmer's markets at their schools. Others were interested in starting up new programs and school gardens.
Did you meet any celebrities?
Yes, I met the Lorax who was there to promote Read Across America. He was quiet, but friendly. And much shorter in person.
Is there anything you want to add?
Thank you to NEA's ESP Quality Department for the invitation to present and exhibit. There were so may first time attendees who were all so excited. It's a great conference.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Check out NEA HIN’s ‘School Breakfast Week’ blog series all week long. We will feature two of our partner organizations talking about the importance of breakfast as part of a healthy lifestyle. As always, let us know what you are doing to promote breakfast in your school or community, and have a healthy and happy School Breakfast Week!
How time flies! It seems School Breakfast Week is almost over and I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from our various partners and affiliates who are making a difference by providing nutritious breakfasts at their schools.
Whether you’re a principal, teacher, custodian, food service worker, school bus driver, school nurse, or a school support employee, everyone plays an important roles in ensuring that students thrive academically, emotionally and physically.
School employees often witness the heavy toll of hunger and poverty on children, as more than 1 in 7 Americans receive the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - formerly known as The Food Stamp Program). According to FRAC, that number equates to approximately 46.5 million people who participated in SNAP (as of December 2011).
As I wrote about in my blog earlier this week, hungry, malnourished children do not learn as well as their peers. In contrast, students who are well-nourished have fewer behavioral and attendance problems, and perform better on tests.
At NEA HIN, we know NEA members care deeply about the health and well-being of students and are committed to ensuring they have the nutrition they need to learn, grow and succeed. They understand the connection between hunger and academic achievement; realize the barriers for students getting to school early, and the stigma for low-income children eating free or reduced-price breakfast in the traditional cafeteria setting.
Data has shown that when breakfast is brought from the cafeteria and into the classroom, participation in the School Breakfast Program can reach optimal levels. So whether you are the ones preparing breakfast, helping to serve breakfast, cleaning-up after breakfast has been eaten, or advocating on behalf of hungry children, YOU play an important role in making sure healthy, nutritious food gets to students.
School employees are champions for breakfast and work tirelessly to ensure students live happy and healthy lives! During School Breakfast Week we honor their service and dedication to student health.
For more information on NEA HIN’s resources and programs as they relate to hunger check out the following:
- Start School with Breakfast: A Guide to Increasing School Breakfast Participation – This publication from the NEA Health Information Network and Share Our Strength provides information about the benefits of school breakfast, new ways to increase school breakfast participation, useful tools for advocates and success stories from other districts.
- Breakfast in the Classroom – For NEA members working in districts with high rates of free and reduced price students, consider advocating for Breakfast in the Classroom, which is proven to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program.
For more information on NEA HIN’s partner organizations:
- Action for Healthy Kids is releasing its school grant program for the 2012-2013 school year where over 500 schools will be awarded with grants that include building effective alternative breakfast programs. Applications are due May 5, 2012.
Breakfast in the Classroom - Mission Possible (Providing Brain Nourishment for a Healthy Academic Start to the Day)
Check out NEA HIN’s ‘School Breakfast Week’ blog series all week long. We will feature two of our partner organizations talking about the importance of breakfast as part of a healthy lifestyle. As always, let us know what you are doing to promote breakfast in your school or community, and have a healthy and happy School Breakfast Week!
Check out NEA HIN’s ‘School Breakfast Week’ blog series all week long. We will feature two of our partner organizations talking about the importance of breakfast as part of a healthy lifestyle. As always, let us know what you are doing to promote breakfast in your school or community, and have a healthy and happy School Breakfast Week!
We had decided 10 years ago that our students were not getting to school on time, nor were they eating a healthy, nourishing breakfast to sustain them through a rigorous 6 hours of academic instruction.
The cafeteria workers at the end of the day set up breakfast for the next morning before they leave. Upon arriving at work they distribute the breakfasts in the classrooms by 8:15, in big freezer cooler bags with a sign-in sheet daily. Everything a teacher needs is in that box (napkins, spoons, forks, fruit, juice, milk and the daily breakfast entrée.)
Students are brought in from playground at 8:58 and start breakfast immediately. Most teachers even our Kindergarten teachers have a set routine where all children, in an orderly manner, go get their breakfast items and return to their seats. They either mark off their name with a highlighter that they have chosen at least 3 items (for federal reimbursement money) or the teacher calls their name and they say 3 or more.
By 9:05, I start my announcements, which last about 4-5 minutes as the children are eating and listening to the daily happenings. When I am done the teacher is either reading a book aloud to the class, or has a review assignment on their desk, or a buddy question they must talk about until 9:12/9:14-breakfast is complete and sat outside the classroom door. We furnish each class with a strainer for the children to dispense of their cereal and milk in the classroom sink (to alleviate the weight and strength of the garbage bag.) The garbage bag is tied by a student or teacher depending on the student’s grade level and set outside along with the box of left overs and the sign-in sheet. Cafeteria staff comes by around 9:20 and gathers the boxes. Our custodian gathers the trash soon afterward.
If a student comes in late with no excuse after 9:20, we usually don’t feed them, unless they state they haven’t had breakfast and are hungry. Families know now that in order for students to have breakfast,students need to be on campus by 9:05. We have very few exceptions, but we would never turn away a child that is hungry.
My staff feels that the 15 minutes a day over 180 days of the school year, is worth the academic growth we see through the children being nourished and their brains not being worried about hunger! It is a WIN WIN for everyone!
When the breakfast in the classroom movement first began, the concept of children eating breakfast after the bell in the actual classroom was seen as a new and exciting way to boost breakfast participation. Today, with its undeniable positive effects on young minds and classroom environments, thousands of schools around the country getting on board the breakfast in the classroom train, undoubtedly headed to a school near you.
As the economy continues to recover, millions of families are relying on school meals programs to provide their children with nutritious foods to keep them alert and attentive during the school day. On an average day during the 2010-2011 school year, 9.8 million low-income children ate breakfast, a 3.8 percent rise from the previous school year. But even with breakfast participation continuing to steadily increase, the number of low-income children eating breakfast still lags well behind the number of children eating lunch, with less than half (48.2 percent) of low-income children receiving school lunch also receiving breakfast.
This past month has seen a sharp focus on breakfast in the classroom and its impact on participation. First, a recent breakfast report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) revealed that the areas of the country that have implemented widespread breakfast in the classroom programs have seen the most significant increases in breakfast consumption, with Washington D.C. ranking 1st in school breakfast participation, experiencing a 32 percent increase in the number of kids eating breakfast in the 2010-2011 school year. To celebrate and mark this achievement, I had the pleasure of attending “Breakfast in the Council” where students from Kimbell Elementary, in collaboration with D.C. Hunger Solutions and FRAC, delivered school breakfasts to all Councilmembers and staff throughout the D.C. Council buildings. The students expressed how much they enjoyed eating breakfast in the classroom with their teacher and, on occasion, their principal. Principal Sheila West-Miller expressed how grateful she is for the opportunity to make sure that all of her students are fed. But the train doesn’t stop here.
The annual FRAC/Feeding America Anti-Hunger Conference highlighted the great work being done by organizations across the country. During the School Breakfast: Best Practices for Expanding Participation session moderated by FRAC’s very own Madeleine Levin and Julie Gehrki from the Walmart Foundation panelists shared best practices and the ways in which they are working to expand school breakfast programs in their states.
- In California, through the work of Tia Shimada and the California Food Policy Advocates’ BreakfastFirst Campaign, students across the state from the Bay Area to Los Angeles are eating breakfast for free in the classroom.
- Dinah Frey of Hunger Free Colorado enthusiastically shared the positive impact of their Colorado School Breakfast Challenge which has led to 40 Colorado schools now operating breakfast in the classroom serving 19,000 students, 14,000 of which are low-income.
- In New Mexico, in an effort to improve educational outcomes for all schoolchildren statewide, Governor Susana Martinez signed a bill mandating that all schools where 85% or more of the students qualify for free or reduced priced meals serve and eat breakfast after the bell free of charge.
- Jenny Ramo of New Mexico Appleseed reported that as a result of the mandate, the state is already seeing dramatic increases in breakfast participation and students and teachers alike are enjoying the improved learning environments.
So, if you are looking to improve the overall academic performance of the students in your schools, I agree with what the research tells us; the best way to do so is for students to eat breakfast in the classroom after the bell. For those schools that have already courageously implemented breakfast in the classroom, they can rest assured; their students have now been saved by the bell.
Waterloo Elementary School is a small, rural community school in south-central Wisconsin. Although it has a few prosperous businesses, it could also be described as a bedroom community, with many parents traveling to nearby bigger cities for work each day. It has a population that includes about 25% Hispanic and about 42% low socio-economic status. Waterloo Elementary is in the third year of its breakfast program, and the number of students participating daily has risen from about 116 our first year to about 144 this year, more than half of those are students who qualify for free/reduced meals.
“We had frequent issues of students coming to school without having had breakfast. Often they would be sent to the office with upset stomachs or headaches. That morning parade to the office has since stopped thanks to having the opportunity for breakfast right away in the classrooms,” said Principal Maureen Adams. “Our students arrive at 7:45 AM on the playground, and the first bell rings at 8:00. Some of the teachers pick up the breakfasts (ordered the day before) and have them waiting in the class right when the students enter. Others assign class jobs to help get the breakfasts for those who ordered.”
Breakfasts always include milk and a fruit (some days of the week are fresh fruit, some days juice, and some days applesauce). Other items include cereal, yogurt, cinnamon roll, breakfast pizza, or PBJ “Uncrustables”. Each week has the same five days of menu items, so students know what to expect each morning. Students are unable to order breakfasts unless there is parent permission granted at the start of the year.
In getting the program off the ground, there was much discussion about whether before-school or in-classroom breakfast was the best option. Several factors helped select in-classroom breakfasts: reduced stigma about who is eating and who is not since it is offered in a common place to any who have pre-ordered, great supervision because the classroom teachers are there to help oversee the meal, no additional set-up or clean-up of the cafeteria (allowing it to be used for other events until lunch time).
Adams adds that the program has had challenges. “Staff recognized the need to make sure kids were ready to learn, and nutrition is certainly part of that. They were worried, though, about loss in instructional time for the 15-20 minute breakfast, but have since become very creative. Some classes conduct business during that time (announcements, calendar, permission slips, etc.), others read aloud from chapter books, some provide socialization time. In all, the time ‘lost’ is more redirected, and I think kids are able to makeup for that later because they have more energy and can focus their attention well.”
Michelle, parent of three elementary students, said “I think it’s good that there is an option for parents.” One fourth grade girl said, “It is good. I don’t have to be in such a hurry.” A fourth grade boy added, “It’s delicious and it makes me healthy, plus we don’t have stuff to eat at home.” There are plans to continue to improve the menu and the service delivery in Waterloo’s Breakfast Program, but overall, it seems to be filling a need and making a difference.
Mrs. Adams visiting with students in a classroom during a typical breakfast. Some kids are eating, others are working on homework or a getting-started project for the day.
I vividly remember one morning, before leaving for elementary school, sitting at the kitchen table and staring at a picture of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team on the front of my Wheaties cereal box. In those days, cereal was regarded as the “breakfast of champions” and there was no greater honor than having your name and face end up on the Wheaties box. Every day at school, well, at least most days, I looked forward to learning with a full stomach and an open mind.
How times have changed! It seems now that many people have forgotten how important breakfast is to good health and what the many benefits are to starting the day with a healthy meal. Even worse, there are many families in the U.S. that don’t have access to a healthy breakfast.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report indicating that 48.8 million people in the U.S. live in food insecure households. Living in a food insecure household means that, at times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members. Of that number, 16.2 million are children. This fact shocked me, but I know that many NEA members face this reality with their students every day.
We have heard from NEA Members who often dip into their own pockets to provide hungry children with snacks during the school day. They understand the established relationship between hunger, academic achievement and child development, and are doing everything they can to help. Some of the data on the effects of hunger on student academic achievement include:
- Hungry children have lower math scores and are more likely to have to repeat a grade.
- Children experiencing hunger are more likely to be hyperactive, absent and tardy, in addition to having behavioral and attention problems more often than other children.
- Children with hunger are more likely to have received special education services, or received mental health counseling, than low-income children who do not experience hunger.
I believe that each student should have enough food every day so that she or he can concentrate, learn and succeed. That is why breakfast is so important. By flipping the Wheaties tagline “breakfast of champions” around a little bit, we come up with the role that the partners in our school breakfast program play—they are champions for breakfast! Students who eat breakfast start the day off ready to learn. They get higher scores in math and reading on standardized tests. They have sharper memories, broader vocabularies, and they focus and behave better.
Most school districts participate in the federally-funded School Breakfast Program, but, on average, less than half of the students who are eligible for the free or reduced-price breakfast are eating it. Students often don’t participate due to bus schedules, drop off times, or fear of stigma.
NEA HIN is one of the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. This program aims to serve universal breakfast in the classroom, rather than in the traditional cafeteria, as a way of increasing the number of children participating in their school’s breakfast program. Schools that provide breakfast in the classroom report decreases in discipline and behavior problems, fewer visits to school nurses and less tardiness; increases in student attentiveness and attendance; and generally improved learning environments.
Providing a healthy breakfast is one of the single most important things we can do for students to support better academic outcomes. In response to the importance of this issue, we created a publication called Start School with Breakfast: A Guide to Increasing School Breakfast Participation. This publication provides information about the benefits of school breakfast, new ways to increase school breakfast participation, useful tools for advocates and success stories from other districts. By using this publication to increase the number of children receiving breakfast in their own districts, NEA members can help alleviate childhood hunger by promoting in-school meals such as those offered through the School Breakfast Program.
Join the breakfast movement! Whether that means advocating for healthy breakfasts to be served at your school, volunteering with your local community food bank, or signing up for the School Nutrition Association’s “School Breakfast - Go for the Gold” challenge—YOU really can make a difference.
Tell us about your favorite breakfast food and become a champion for breakfast!
If you are planning on attending the 2012 NEA ESP Conference next week, we can't wait to see you. NEA HIN is pleased to once again be joining Education Support Professionals from around the country. We are looking forward to seeing many friends from past conferences and meeting new ones. As in the past, we will be in the exhibit area with resources and materials to help ESPs create safe, healthy, great public schools for all.
NEA HIN staff will also be presenting two workshops as part of the Skill-Based Learning Professional Development Track. On Saturday afternoon at 2:45 pm Lisa Creighton will be presenting Healthy Kids Learn Better: Why and How to Improve School Food. Making sure that kids have access to healthy, wholesome foods at school can impact both health and behavior. This highly interactive session will focus on the importance of nutrition for child health, programs to improve access to school meals (such as breakfast in the classroom) and the quality of school food (such as farm-to-school). The session will also cover some of the things being done at the local, state, and federal level to improve school food. The session will focus on the ways that ESPs can help students, while building strong community partnerships.
On Sunday morning at 8:15 am, NEA HIN Executive Director Jerry Newberry will present, School Security Officers:Making a Difference for At-Risk Students. Participants in this session will address the critical role of the school security officer in support of at-risk students. Through discussion and activities, participants will address the needs of at-risk students and discuss the unique challenges of the students they work with. The session will focus on building bridges with families and community resources to support student success.
We hope to see you at the conference and copies of the presentations will be available on our website after the conference.
On Wednesday, February 22 I participated in a School Nutrition Foundation webinar, entitled Teamwork is Key to Successful Food Allergy Management in Schools. Over 300 people participated in the webinar generating many questions and concerns. (If you missed it the webinar is archived and can be found at the link above.)
With 6% of children having a food allergy, it is very likely that a school will have one or more students whose life could be threatened by eating the wrong thing. The big eight of food allergies (soy, eggs, milk, fish, wheat, shellfish, tree nuts, and peanuts) are found throughout school meal programs and family meals alike. School employees need to know what to do to prevent life threatening reactions.
Given the title of the webinar, it should be no surprise that the most important thing that is needed is TEAMWORK. Teamwork is what gets a good plan developed and implemented. Teamwork is what makes sure that staff and volunteers get trained. Teamwork is what helps parents feel confident that their child is being well cared for. And the team needs to made up of people from every job category. This means the school nurse and allied health professionals, school food service staff, custodians, teachers, paraeducators, administrators, office staff, and bus drivers. Of course parents need to be on the team too (if age appropriate, students should also be considered).
This may seem like common sense, but too often the pressures of the day-to-day business gets in the way of sitting down with the right people and creating a plan. Sometimes we get busy and don't make sure that the plan is more than a document sitting in a binder (or on a website). Staff need to be trained, practices changed, and parents communicated with. Teamwork can make sure those things happen.
To help foster that teamwork, NEA HIN is currently working with the United States Department of Agriculture to produce new resources on food allergies and what school employees need to know and can do. Watch this space for more information.
When people find out that I work in the field of child nutrition, the first response is usually a memory from school lunch. Most recall favorite foods or the ladies in the cafeteria who always knew their name. However, I never hear any stories about school breakfast. Growing up, my dad was the breakfast chef in the house. Across the kitchen counter, we caught up, talked about the day ahead and decided that an egg sandwich with ketchup made in a cast iron skillet was the best breakfast ever.
Having that quiet time before going to school helped set the tone for the day. I now have the opportunity, with a lot of help, to help thousands of children have a similar start to their day. Moving school breakfast into the classroom is a great way to start the day. Students share a meal with their peers and teacher and begin the school day together. Coordinating this dance every morning takes teamwork, commitment and patience. With the support of teachers and all of the school staff, principals, school administrators, parents, the community and child nutrition professionals (truly a village), it works. With the shared goal of helping children achieve, moving breakfast into the classroom can create stronger communities in the classroom, school and beyond.
As I mentioned, I have a lot of help to encourage more schools to move breakfast into the classroom. Working with NEA HIN, and the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, we are making a difference one classroom at a time. When I have days where nothing is going right, I check out the Beyond Breakfast blog and read through the success stories. It helps put things in perspective. Perhaps the intersection of education and food starts with breakfast in the classroom.
Did you know that the simple act of eating school breakfast can play a significant role in determining student success?
Evidence shows that children, especially low income children, will enjoy better health and will perform better in school if they have access to a healthy breakfast. Research shows that breakfast plays a significant role in shaping the learning environment, and can lead to improved academic achievement in math, vocabulary and standardized tests. Children who eat breakfast at school also have lower rates of absence and tardiness and exhibit decreased behavioral and psychological problems. Eating breakfast regularly can also improve a child's diet and may reduce the risk of obesity. Bottom line: more kids eating breakfast equals a better learning environment for kids and a better teaching environment for educators and school staff.
NEA HIN has learned that the most reliable way to increase participation in breakfast at school is through a service model called breakfast in the classroom. In this model, food is delivered directly to the classroom each morning, and students eat with their peers in the classroom after the start of the school day. This model is proven to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program because it helps reduce barriers to breakfast participation such as bus/carpool schedules, pressure to go directly to the classroom upon arrival at school and the social stigma that “only poor kids” eat breakfast in the cafeteria.
With this knowledge in mind, earlier this year NEA HIN participated in a one year pilot project to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program by helping five school districts implement breakfast in the classroom programs. The project was carried out by Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, a consortium of four national partners including NEA Health Information Network, Food Research and Action Center, School Nutrition Foundation, and National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, and was funded by a $3.15 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. As part of the project, the Partners chose five school districts based on need and potential for success to participate in Breakfast in the Classroom, including: Dallas Independent School District, Texas; Little Rock School District, Arkansas; Memphis City Schools, Tennessee; Orange County Public Schools, Florida (including Orlando); and Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland (outside of Washington, DC).
After a lot of hard work from the school districts and local stakeholders, the project turned out to be a great success! A total of 64 schools implemented breakfast in the classroom, leading to an additional 10,463 students eating breakfast each day in the five participating school districts. In Fall 2011, that number increased even more, with an additional 19 schools rolling out the breakfast in the classroom program. For more information about the project, visit www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.
To build on the success of the pilot project, over the past few months NEA
HIN staff have been working to spread the word about the success of the Partners
for Breakfast in the Classroom pilot project and encourage more local and state
NEA leaders to support of the breakfast in the classroom in their districts. So
far we’ve received a great response from our state and local leaders, and are
hoping to get even more NEA members and leaders involved. If you think your NEA
local or state leader might be interested in supporting breakfast in the
classroom at your school, visit the breakfast in the classroom
section of the NEA HIN website for more information, and then contact me directly for more information. We
look forward to hearing from you!