More than 300 schools in Virginia have changed the way they serve breakfast to their students this school year, resulting in a year-over-year increase of 21,000 students participating in the National School Breakfast Program. First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe visited William Ramsay Elementary in Alexandria this morning where she praised the staff’s efforts to boost school breakfast participation. Wednesday, the Governor will visit Miles Jerome Jones Elementary School in Richmond to deliver a similar message of gratitude.
Breakfast fuels academic success. However, each day too many Virginia students miss out on the healthy food they need to achieve. At the start of the 2015-2016 school year, schools across Virginia committed to connect more students with breakfast through solutions like serving breakfast in the classroom or from grab and go carts at the start of the school day. This is part of the First Lady’s efforts to end childhood hunger in the Commonwealth with No Kid Hungry Virginia, an initiative of the national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength.
“Kids can’t be hungry for knowledge if they’re just plain hungry,” said Dorothy McAuliffe, First Lady of Virginia. “That’s why breakfast can change a student’s life. It means more focused students and higher test scores, leading to higher graduation rates and better employment outcomes down the line.”
At Carver Elementary School in Newport News, the implementation of the breakfast program has produced immediate, positive results in both the school’s culture and student performance.
“There has been a 28 percent decrease in tardiness and there have been zero discipline referrals related to breakfast routines. Overall, the school day begins with a positive tone,” said Carver Principal Izzie R. Brown. “Breakfast in the Classroom has had a very positive effect on the culture of the school day. The morning mad dash to be in the front of the breakfast line has been replaced with a family style sharing of a nutritious meal. Students enter their class, get their breakfast and read silently while eating or participate in morning meetings.”
In Virginia’s 2015 budget, $537,297 was allocated to help schools reach more students eligible for free and reduced-price meals with school breakfast, by making it part of the school day. In his introduced budget, Governor McAuliffe doubled the yearly investment, providing over $2 million dollars to schools to grow their breakfast programs over the next two years.
The First Lady was joined at William Ramsay Elementary by partners from No Kid Hungry, Virginia Hunger Solutions, the Virginia School Nutrition Association, the Mid Atlantic Dairy Association, the Southeast United Dairy Association, Action for Healthy Kids, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and the Virginia Department of Education – all of which have played a role in helping Virginia schools expand breakfast participation.
According the 2016 Virginia School Breakfast Report released this week by Virginia Hunger Solutions and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) at today’s event, the state is on a great path. “A strong School Breakfast Program is essential to ending childhood hunger as well as ensuring that students start the school day ready to learn.” said the report. “Virginia has made notable progress in getting this important meal to children. Nevertheless, significant room for growth remains.”
“More than 300,000 children in Virginia are food insecure,” said Duke Storen, senior director at Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. “Partners are coming together from across the Commonwealth to make sure every kid is connected to the healthy food they need every day. That starts with school breakfast.”
About No Kid Hungry Virginia
First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe is leading the charge to end childhood hunger in the Commonwealth with No Kid Hungry Virginia, an initiative of the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. No Kid Hungry Virginia works with a diverse network of partners to ensure that kids have access to the healthy meals they need where they live, learn and play. Learn more at NoKidHungry.org/VA.