Pittsburgh, PA, March 5, 2018—
March 5 marks the official start of school breakfast week. Throughout Allegheny County, ten school districts are exceeding Governor Wolf’s breakfast goal from Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger Free Pennsylvania, and five are implementing creative solutions. The Governor has established the goal of “By 2020, 60 percent of students benefiting from the free and reduced price school meals will participate in school breakfast.”
According to the newly published report, Breakfast Basics 2018 Update, Allies for Children and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank state that overall, Allegheny County is close to meeting the Governor’s goal by having an average of 57 students eligible for free and reduced price school meals eating school breakfast for every 100 of eligible students eating school lunch. For districts that want to increase participation, alternative models can provide an additional way for students to get the nourishment they need to start the day.
Gateway, North Hills, South Allegheny, Sto-Rox and West Mifflin School Districts have committed to and received grant funding to pilot an alternative breakfast model in the 2017-18 school year.
Gateway High School implemented a “Grab and Go” breakfast model in addition to a Second Chance Breakfast model. Since the pilot began in September, an additional 60 students are eating breakfast each day that did not eat before. Gateway is serving nearly 220 students compared to 160 before the alternative models launched. Also utilizing a “Grab and Go” style breakfast, North Hills Middle School went from serving fewer than five students to an average of 20 in October and 50 in January. Likewise, Sto-Rox Junior/Senior High School went from serving approximately 150 of its students breakfast in the 2016-17 school year to now serving more than 200.
“Providing nutritious school breakfast not only contributes to long-term health outcomes for children, it is also linked to improved academic performance. Since we received this grant, we are able to see more students eating breakfast and beginning their day fueled up and ready to learn,” says Timothy Beck, Sto-Rox Junior Senior High School Principal.
The Food Research and Action Center’s annual School Breakfast Scorecard, shows that breakfast positively affects children’s learning in terms of behavior, cognition and academic performance. School breakfast can lead to improved dietary intake, reduced food insecurity, better test scores, improved student health and fewer distractions in the classroom throughout the morning.
This work was made possible through a generous grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation. Allies for Children received the grant to do this work in spring of 2017. In close partnership, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Allies for Children have been working with school districts throughout the county to rethink how breakfast is served. North Hills Middle School, Gateway High School and Sto-Rox Junior/Senior High School launched alternative breakfast models during the first half of the 2017-18 school year, while South Allegheny Middle High School and West Mifflin are in the process of launching programs.