In an effort to increase access to nutritious meals for thousands of children throughout Western Massachusetts, The Food Bank is working with the Eos Foundation to expand the Breakfast in the Classroom program throughout Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties.
What is Breakfast in the Classroom
The Breakfast in the Classroom program provides breakfast to every child after the morning’s opening bell, no matter the family’s income level. Children eat together in the classroom, enjoying nutritionally well-balanced foods like breakfast wraps, yogurt, or fruit. Students eat breakfast while the teacher takes attendance, collects homework or teaches a short lesson plan. In about 10 minutes, the meal is over and the school day continues.
Hunger’s damaging effects
Research shows that food insecure children face significant stress and challenges that can have a lasting effect on their physical, cognitive and behavioral development. Hunger affects a child’s ability to learn and perform well at school. They come to school ill-prepared to learn, are more likely to have trouble focusing in class, and may struggle with complex social interactions and adapt less effectively to environmental stress.
Reaching children throughout our region
The Food Bank seeks to initiate Breakfast in the Classroom in schools that are enrolled in the Community Eligibility Provision or where at least 60% of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Increasing school breakfast participation adds 5 more meals per week to tens of thousands of children in Western Massachusetts, and provides a sustainable method of reaching children from households of lower incomes.
Benefits of Breakfast in the Classroom
- Students have improved concentration, alertness, comprehension, memory and learning.
- Students’ attendance increases, tardiness rates decrease, there are fewer visits to school nurses for head and stomachaches, and visits to the principal’s office decline.
- Children have the chance to develop social skills and a sense of community by eating in calm classrooms.
- Since all children are offered breakfast, no child is stigmatized for needing food.
- Schools receive federal reimbursement for the meals they serve; once a school reaches 80% participation, the breakfast program becomes self-sustaining and can generate extra income to help fund other aspects of the school nutrition program.