CASPER, Wyo. — Five school districts have been named the winners of the “Wyoming Breakfast Challenge.”
The following districts won the challenge and will receive $1,000 to support their school breakfast programs:
- Laramie County School District #2
- Sheridan CSD #2
- Carbon CSD #1
- Uinta CSD #6
- Sublette CSD #9
As the overall winner, LCSD #2 will receive an additional $1,000 award.
Mia Donley is the Wyoming Department of Education’s National School Lunch Program consultant. She explains that the purpose of the breakfast challenge was to increase school districts’ “overall breakfast participation.”
Donely says that Wyoming has ranked a “little low” compared to other states in the country when it comes to ensuring students have access to breakfast at school.
But breakfast is important for kids’ school performance, she adds.
“Kids who have breakfast learn better,” Donely says. “Hungry kids can’t learn.”
One reason LCSD #2 was named the overall winner is because the number of students accessing breakfast at school increased 48% when comparing the November to February period of the 2017-2018 school year to 2018-2019.
But they also added a program to allow students access to breakfast in their classrooms, something Donely says is a significant step.
While most schools offer breakfast in a traditional cafeteria setting, Donely says that new “innovative delivery models” help ensure that more students have access to morning meals.
In addition to offering breakfast in the classroom, she gave examples of “Grab and Go” models, second chance breakfast between a school’s first and second class periods or offering breakfast to students for free.
Donely says that Wyoming is one of six states partnering with a “No Kid Hungry” School Breakfast Leadership Institute initiative.
That institute has recently provided the state with a $50,000 grant to support school breakfast programs. A similar grant the department previoulsy received will help pay for the awards given to the “Wyoming Breakfast Challenge” winners.
“School breakfast can have a potentially dramatic effect on students,” a No Kids Hungry Starts With Breakfast report reads.
According to that report, eating school breakfast has the following benefits for students:
- 17.5% higher standardized test math scores
- Attend an average of 1.5 more days of school during the year
- 20% more likely to graduate high school
While their data suggests the importance of kids eating breakfast, No Kids Hungry says that one in five American kids “struggle with hunger” and three in four teachers say they teach students who “regularly come to school hungry.”
Donely says that all school breakfast programs across Wyoming public schools are required to offer a fruit or vegetable, milk and some kind of whole grain.
That is true whether the breakfast program is traditional cafeteria-style or one of the innovative programs described above.
In addition to the monetary awards to support their breakfast programs, the winning districts will also receive sets of nutrition-related books to support students at elementary, middle and high schools levels.
Donely says that Wyoming’s first lady Jennie Gordon has shown a commitment to improve nutrition for children, adding that she sits on a team that oversees the School Breakfast Leadership grant.
More about the Wyoming Department of Education’s nutrition policies and programs is available online.