Can a little friendly competition boost school breakfast participation in Massachusetts? The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) and the New England Food & Dairy Council (NEFDC) think so, and have served up the Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge.
According to their website, increasing school breakfast participation is important because research shows “schools that implement breakfast programs see improvements in attendance, behavior, and test scores.” But among Massachusetts public school students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, nearly two thirds do not eat school breakfast, ranking our state 35th nationwide (source).
The Massachusetts School Breakfast challenge aims to help increase school breakfast participation by 35% from January 2013 to December 2014 in districts across the state. All districts with a school breakfast program are automatically enrolled, and schools will compete in one of two groups: districts with 39% or fewer students eligible for free/reduced lunch; and districts with 40% or more of students eligible for free/reduced lunch.
To help schools seeking to start up or expand their school breakfast program, Mass DESE and NEFDC – along with partners Mass SNA, Project Bread & the Mass Dept of Agriculture – are offering $75,000 in funding (up to $4,000 per school). The funding is available to help schools increase awareness of and access to nutrient-rich foods and physical activity opportunities for students. Act quickly – applications are due by December 20 2012!
JSI can also help you develop healthy and tasty ideas that encourage participation in your school’s breakfast program. In our six-hour Healthy Breakfast for Kids workshop, managers and school nutrition staff explore delicious and nutritious options to offer students to help them start their day and improve academic performance. The dates and locations for this workshop will be available on the JSI web site and in the JSI 2013 Spring brochure mailed to schools early January 2013.