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ARLINGTON, VA., Nov. 15, 2011 – The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) today launched a multimillion dollar program to increase the number of already eligible children who actually receive breakfast at school. The program, funded with a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation, seeks to expand the reach of existing federal school breakfast programs in four districts.
“Across the country, more than 19 million children qualify to receive free or reduced-price lunch at school, but less than half of them get breakfast at school—even though programs exist to feed them,” said AASA executive director Daniel A. Domenech in announcing the grant.
“No child can learn well on an empty stomach,” he added. “We intend to do something about that.”
The purpose of the AASA breakfast initiative is to significantly increase the participation of needy children in already existing federal school breakfast programs. Studies have shown that children are not participating in these programs for a number of reasons—because their school does not provide the program, their parents do not have sufficient information about the program or understand that they are eligible to participate, or transportation to get the child to school in time for breakfast is not available.
The AASA initiative will create broad awareness and support among school district and community leaders for the programs and share effective and sustainable program models with school districts.
“Superintendents are key in this effort,” said AASA Associate Director Sharon Adams-Taylor, who heads the AASA Children’s Program Department. “We need to be sure that they understand the programs and know how to access funding for their students.
“Equally important, we will be building new connections between local school superintendents and state hunger and advocacy non-profits that will help ensure the sustainability of the program. This is definitely a win-win situation.”
Program funds necessary to expand and enhance existing school breakfast programs will be granted to four districts in three states:
The school districts were selected by an expert panel from among interested districts across the country. Beginning in January, the program will serve 65,000 eligible K-12 students within these four districts. Elementary students will be offered breakfast in the classroom; secondary students will have a “Grab and Go” meal. All the breakfasts will include milk, a fruit/vegetable option, grains and protein.
“Our job,” said Domenech, “is to help these districts get their programs off the ground and be examples for other districts around the country.
“We are building a broad support system for these districts to ensure the program’s success. The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) and AASA state affiliates are partners in the effort. Each of these organizations has a large state-based network and will provide on-the-ground mentors in each of the four districts.”
Additional organizations supporting the program are the National School Boards Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE), the National PTA, the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE), the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), and state child hunger state advocacy groups. Experts in food service and nutrition and in program development will be available to assist the participating districts.
Program evaluation results will be shared with the Walmart Foundation. Project findings and lessons learned will be disseminated to a wide range of stakeholders.
“This program allows AASA to walk the talk,” concluded Domenech. “Bottom line, the superintendent’s job is to make things work for kids. Thanks to Walmart, this initiative allows us to add a major component to the well-being of children all across the nation.”
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About AASAThe American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org. Follow AASA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AASAHQ or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AASApage.