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MASSACHUSETTS PARTNERSHIP CHALLENGES SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO IMPROVE PARTICIPATION IN BREAKFAST

$75,000 in funding from Fuel Up to Play 60 available to help schools focus on breakfast innovation and friendly competition

Boston, MA – December 3, 2012 –New England Dairy & Food Council is proud to announce the launch of the Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge. This challenge, developed in partnership with Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the Child Nutrition Outreach Program at Project Bread and School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts, aims to increase school breakfast participation by 35% in districts across the state by the end of 2014.

“Consuming a healthy school breakfast helps students establish positive eating habits that contribute to a lifetime of overall better health,” said Jennie Bass, MS, MPH, director of the Child Nutrition Outreach Program at Project Bread.  “Research shows that serving students fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats improves academic performance, decreases visits to the nurse, and positively impacts classroom behavior.”

On September 20th, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a letter to encourage school administrators to find innovative ways to increase participation in school breakfast. According to the Food Research and Action Center’s School Breakfast scorecard, Massachusetts ranked a dismal 38th in breakfast participation in the United States. The Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge provides an opportunity to improve that statistic and encourages schools to follow the Secretary’s call to champion school breakfast.

“School breakfast is a win-win opportunity,” said Jane McLucas,  president of School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts. “Students win by having the nutrition they need to succeed in school, and the nutrition programs benefit from the increased revenue stream which can be an important part of maintaining a financially sound program.”

The Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge (MSBC) is a multi-faceted project that includes resources, funding opportunities and awards, all in the name of ensuring students start the day with a healthy meal. The challenge website, www.MASchoolBreakfast.org, is the go-to place for Massachusetts schools to get involved with the challenge and access resources on creative approaches to serving school breakfast, such as in-the-classroom breakfast or grab ‘n’ go kiosks.

Through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, $75,000 in funding provided by New England Dairy & Food Council and the dairy farmers of Massachusetts is available to help schools rise to this challenge. Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program that offers individual schools up to $4,000 to help them increase awareness of and access to nutrient-rich foods and physical activity opportunities for students.

“Massachusetts dairy farmers are happy to support school breakfast programs, and a little healthy competition doesn’t hurt either!” said Sam Shields, dairy farmer of Lolan Farms in Middleboro, MA and Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board. “The future of the dairy industry as well as the health of today’s children are critical and deserve our support.”

“The Department of Agricultural Resources is thrilled to support the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s role in increasing school breakfast participation. Breakfast not only fuels the minds and bodies of our youth, but it is also a great way to encourage children to consume local dairy products like milk and yogurt every day,” said Greg Watson, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.  “Our dairy farmers depend on it too!”

Fuel Up to Play 60 funding can be used to support costs associated with starting or improving school breakfast programs, such as equipment purchases.

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