The MA School Breakfast Challenge Partners are challenging Massachusetts School Districts to increase their school breakfast participation. Districts will compete for awards and prizes based on the following criteria:
Challenge Group 1
Schools where 60 percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced price meals.
Goal: All high free and reduced priced eligible schools achieve 80 percent or higher student participation rates in school breakfast. Note: schools are encouraged to strive for school breakfast after the bell and in the classroom.
Challenge Group 2
Schools where 30-59 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced priced meals.
Goal: All schools achieve 50 percent or higher student participation rate. Note: schools are encouraged to strive for an alternative school breakfast after the bell model.
Challenge Group 3
Schools where 29 percent or less of the students are eligible for free and reduced priced meals.
Goal: All schools achieve 25 percent or higher participation rate. Note: schools encouraged to strive for an active school breakfast program.
Challenge partners will offer grants to schools to help them increase their School Breakfast Program participation and meet the Challenge. The ESE funded Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) will also offer schools technical assistance to help improve their breakfast participation.
Why Increase School Breakfast Participation?
Children of all ages do better in school when they start the day with a good breakfast. Research has shown that students who eat breakfast are ready to learn. Schools that implement breakfast programs see improvements in attendance, behavior, and test scores.
With nearly 1 in 5 U.S. kids facing the threat of hunger, teachers across America are seeing its effects. Three out of five teachers say they have children in their classrooms that regularly come to school hungry.1 These students are unable to concentrate, often have headaches and stomach aches, and demonstrate poor academic performance. More than half of teachers (53%) say they purchase food for hungry kids in their classrooms. One in ten of these teachers buys food every week.
More than half (or 54%) of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch in Massachusetts public schools do not eat school breakfast on a given school day, ranking Massachusetts as the 43rd state in low income student school breakfast participation.
Schools have the unique opportunity to offer hungry students breakfast at school to help get their day off to a healthy start. By providing more students with the opportunity to eat breakfast at school, research confirms that students:
- Have better attendance
- Are tardy less often
- Are better able to concentrate
- Perform better academically through higher test scores and grades – especially when eaten close to testing time
- Make fewer visits to the school nurse
- Have fewer disciplinary problems and report less bullying
Innovations in marketing and promotion, enhanced menu offerings, and delivery methods of school breakfast have resulted in significantly increased student participation. Now is the time to step up to the Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge and adapt school breakfast programs that attract more students to eat breakfast.