Harrisburg among School Breakfast Challenge award winners

Thursday, August 9, 2018
Harrisburg School Nutrition Director Dolores Sutterfield received a $1,000 prize for the school after increasing breakfast participation rates. (Photo provided)

During School Breakfast Month in March, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign posed a challenge to Arkansas schools as a means of increasing breakfast participation rates (percentage of all students who eat breakfast at school). The three schools with the largest increase in their March, April, and May 2018 breakfast participation rates relative to their rates for the same months in 2017, would receive cash awards for their child nutrition departments. To participate in the Breakfast Month Challenge schools had to be using a Breakfast After the Bell model of breakfast delivery.

Harrisburg High School was among those three winners, coming in at second place with a 267 percent increase. They operate a mid-morning second chance/grab and go model. School Nutrition Director Dolores Sutterfield received a $1,000 cash prize for her department last week in recognition of the achievement.

The benefits of school breakfast to students and educators is well documented. School breakfast leads to reduced food insecurity, better test scores, improved student health, and fewer distractions in the classroom. In their 2016/2017 School Breakfast Scorecard, the Food Research and Action Center reports that implementing a Breakfast after the Bell model--one that moves breakfast out of the cafeteria before school starts and makes it part of the school day--has been proven to be the most successful strategy for increasing school breakfast participation. It overcomes the barriers (like transportation issues and stigma) that keep children from accessing a nutritious breakfast. The Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign is been committed to helping Arkansas schools adopt Breakfast After the Bell models by providing grant dollars and technical assistance.

According to data from the Arkansas Department of Education, since Breakfast After the Bell models began being implemented in Arkansas in the 2011/2012 school year, there has been an increase of 3.8 million breakfast meals served to Arkansas students, and a federal rebursement increase of $11.6 million for meals served.

The other two Breakfast Month Challenge winners were Nashville Junior High with a 347 percent increase and Magnet Cove Elementary with a 186 percent increase.

The Alliance congratulates all of the schools that participated in the School Breakfast Month Challenge and offers special accolades to Nashville High School, Harrisburg High School and Magnet Cove Elementary School for their impressive increases in school breakfast participation and commitment to helping assure their students academic achievement.

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