The Total Child

Celebrating National School Breakfast Week 2017

(Alternative School Breakfast , National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Since 2011, AASA has engaged 22 school districts in the Alternative School Breakfast Initiative, supported by the Walmart Foundation. This program increases the number of children who eat school breakfast, by taking breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom and hallways through Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab ‘n’ Go, and Second Chance options.

These participating districts held activities over National School Breakfast Week, from March 6-10, to raise awareness of their school breakfast programs. Here are some shining examples:

School Administrators and Parents Engage in Meriden Public Schools

 MeridenAdminsNSBW2017

Meriden Public Schools hosted two elementary student and parent " School Breakfast Superhero" themed breakfast events, organized by their FoodCorp service member Lexi Brenner, during National School Breakfast Week to educate parents and students on the benefits of school breakfast and increase breakfast participation.

School and District Administrators, including Superintendent Dr. Mark D. Benigni , showed their support of school breakfast and were in attendance.

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Superintendent Dr. Mark D. Benigni, Meriden Public Schools, at a taste test activity.

The district’s three Registered Dietitians answered general health and nutrition questions and interacted with students and families. SNAP outreach efforts to increase CEP eligibility for more Meriden schools was also conducted. Students participated in the School Breakfast Week Challenge, tracking the amount of times they eat school breakfast with materials provided by the School Nutrition Association. Fun breakfast prizes were provided to each student daily when they ate breakfast during the week, in addition to breakfast "Lucky Tray" giveaways!

 Promotional Contests Popular Among Students in Two Large, Urban Districts 

San Diego Unified School District 

 SanDiegoNSBWmovieposter

San Diego had 12 of their  elementary schools participating in National School Breakfast Week promotion. Every student who ate breakfast every day of that week was entered into a drawing for a pair of movie tickets.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Spring Independent School District

Spring ISD continued their “Decorate Your Plate” promotion of National School Breakfast Week, which has become a hit in the district! Students decorate paper plates with their favorite breakfast foods and submit them for a chance to win a bike and helmet. The principals at each school select a winner. Below are a few of the student plates.

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From Rural Towns to Robotics: Coming Full Circle with VISTA

(National Awareness, Equity) Permanent link

 The following is a cross guest post of Eileen Conoboy,Acting Director of AmeriCorps VISTA. She is the daughter of AASA staff member Carolyn Conoboy.

Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #AmeriCorpsWorks.  Learn more about AmeriCorps VISTA, by visiting this website https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-vista 

When I packed up my car in 1992 and left my familiar bubble in Arlington, VA to serve a year as a VISTA member in rural North Dakota, I was an adventurous 22-year-old, hitting the road with idealism and a duffel bag. With 3 days of training under my belt, I arrived in town, found a room to rent over the shop-keeper’s house, and settled into my new role at a domestic violence and sexual assault program. I spent the next 12 months recruiting and training volunteers for a battered women’s task force, establishing a safe house network, and setting up a court watch program to monitor how the system responded to victims of abuse. Being able to make a difference in people’s lives was an awakening for me, and I bounded out of bed each morning with excitement and vigor as I headed off to the first job I ever loved. My cultural intelligence also grew as I learned to recruit in church basements, came to understand the difference between a combine and a tractor, and developed a deep appreciation for the richness of Midwestern hospitality.

Fast forward 25 years and here I sit at my keyboard, pinching myself that my circuitous path has led me to be Acting Director of AmeriCorps VISTA. Having benefited from so many interventions in my own life, from Head Start to scholarships and Pell grants, this feels akin to winning the purpose lottery. I get to support the 8,000 VISTAs who are walking the talk and fighting poverty every day in America.

The secret sauce of this 52-year-strong anti-poverty program is its multiplying force. Have a dollar? A VISTA member can turn it into two. Running a program with five mentors to help keep kids in school? A VISTA can recruit and train ten more. VISTA members leveraged $178 million in cash and in-kind resources and mobilized 900,000 local volunteers in 2016 alone. From Anchorage to Orlando and 3,000 sites in between, these anti-poverty warriors are finding the good, multiplying it, and mobilizing the non-federal resources needed to ensure the positive ripples reverberate in communities long after the VISTA member leaves.  

The mission of VISTA hasn’t changed in its 52 years, but the scope of projects has adapted with the times. In addition to bolstering services for homeless veterans and helping low-income youth access college, VISTAs today are combating opioid abuse and expanding robotics programs in low-income communities. An example of the latter is the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) AmeriCorps VISTA project, which I’m thrilled to visit today as I serve alongside VISTA member Christina Lee during AmeriCorps Week. Through the FIRST project, VISTAs help inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, and engage underserved communities and school districts to make science and technology accessible to all children. Since 2013, 114 AmeriCorps VISTA members have expanded FIRST programming into 51 cities and 32 states, engaging more than 7,600 children from under-resourced communities in STEM activities. While robotics and Lego competitions may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of anti-poverty work, the FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA project provides children with access to education and technology resources in order to “engineer paths out of poverty.”

 I can’t wait to see how Christina’s work is empowering local kids. To all of the VISTAs and National Service members serving today – keep fighting the good fight, thank you for your service, and happy AmeriCorps Week!

AASA Alternative School Breakfast Initiative districts lead New York State in breakfast participation

(Alternative School Breakfast) Permanent link

This guest post was written by Jessica Pino-Goodspeed, Child Nutrition Programs Specialist, Hunger Solutions New York.

 March2017HungerSolutionsReport

 It’s National School Breakfast week, and each year, Hunger Solutions New York celebrates the occasion with the release of its statewide report on school breakfast participation. Our latest report, School Breakfast: Reducing Child Hunger, Bolstering Student Success, reveals that the two New York State school districts in AASA’s Alternative School Breakfast Initiative, Hempstead Union Free School District (UFSD) and Newburgh Enlarged City School District, led the state in reaching low- income students with breakfast during the 2015-2016 school year.  

One in five New York State children face hunger every day. Children who arrive at school hungry have their mind on their empty stomach rather than on school work. More than 60 percent of New York State public school students live in households with income below or near the poverty level. Those families depend on free and reduced-price school meals to stretch limited monthly grocery budgets.

School breakfast provides students with a vital nutritional and educational support, during a crucial period of growth, development and learning, but our report shows the School Breakfast Program is greatly underutilized in New York State. While statewide school breakfast participation has increased since the 2014-2015 school year, growth in the number of students qualified to receive free or reduced-price breakfast has offset participation growth. In the 2015-2016 school year, fewer than one in three students who qualified to eat free or reduced-price breakfast participated in the School Breakfast Program.

New York State is among the lowest-performing states in reaching low-income National School Lunch Program participants with the School Breakfast Program. The state was ranked 42nd in the Food Research and Action Center’s School Breakfast Scorecard for the 2015-2016 school year.

With statewide breakfast participation lagging, Hempstead UFSD and Newburgh Enlarged City School District are examples for school breakfast best practices. Both districts have implement alternative school breakfast service models like breakfast in the classroom, grab and go, and second chance options, and provide free breakfast to all students, to optimize breakfast access. Together, Newburgh and Hempstead accounted for a quarter of the statewide growth in School Breakfast Program participation during the 2015-2016 school year, with increases of 67% and 133%, respectively.

 When students do not eat school breakfast, not only do they miss out on learning and health benefits, but also a significant amount of federal funding is left on the table. In the 2015-2016 school year, only 45.88% of free and reduced-price lunch participants also ate school breakfast. This resulted in the forfeiture of more than $71 million in federal reimbursements in that school year alone.

Ensuring New York State’s most vulnerable students have access to school breakfast requires simultaneous efforts at federal, state, and local levels. It is important to recognize that school breakfast can help to remove hunger as an obstacle to learning. When properly leveraged, the School Breakfast Program can be a fundamental building block for student health and academic success. To this end, schools, federal and state agencies, and elected officials should prioritize systemic changes to improve school breakfast participation. The report released today outlines specific methods to achieve that goal.

 Hunger Solutions New York works to ensure every public school student has access to school breakfast. Our organization provides school districts with tools, resources and one-on-one support to help maximize the SBP’s reach and to help ensure every student starts the school day free from hunger, properly nourished and prepared for a day of learning. Learn more at SchoolMealsHubNY.org.