Minnesota school breakfast challenge kicks-off

By KBJR News 1

October 24, 2013 Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 11:20 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Schools around the nation have the option of offering free or reduced breakfast to every child in school.

That is important because data shows clearly that kids who start their day with a healthy and hearty breakfast will do better academically.

An event at Piedmont Elementary School in Duluth, Minn., raises awareness of child hunger and encourages Minnesota schools to help.

Just 25 percent of Piedmont Elementary students choose to take advantage of the breakfast offered every weekday morning.

School officials hope to change that, not only because it is good for the kids but because Minnesota schools could take advantage of a financial incentive program if more kids participate in the breakfast program.

Funded by the federal government schools around the nation have the opportunity to participate in the free breakfast program; however, some schools are missing out on the opportunity.

The Duluth Schools Superintendent remembers what it was like teaching at low-income schools before the breakfast program was offered.

“I saw firsthand students coming to school hungry. And so teachers and others in the school were trying to provide students with food,” Duluth Public Schools Superintendent, Bill Gronseth, said.

“So we want to figure out a way to solve that problem, which we can, and this is reimbursed, so this is an opportunity that once you get it up and running you can subsidize, you can afford to do it because the money is there,” Hunger-Free Minnesota’s Chief Campaign Officer, Ellie Lucas, said.

Across Minnesota as it stands now low-income kids miss out on 29 million school breakfasts. That is why Hunger-Free Minnesota and the Midwest Dairy Council are challenging Minnesota to take advantage of the Federal Breakfast program so no students go hungry.

“If they aren’t having the right nutrients they’re not going to do good in school, and I feel bad that I will but not them,” Piedmont Elementary student, Krystal Knight, said.

As an incentive to encourage schools to participate in the breakfast program, Hunger-Free Minnesota will pay selected schools 10 cents for every meal served up to 25,000 meals.

Piedmont Elementary School serves its breakfasts in the cafeteria, but there are also grab-and-go and breakfast in the classroom models.

All Duluth and Superior public schools currently offer free breakfasts for any students who want to participate.

Ramona Marozas