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Breakfast After the Bell Now at Park Orchard Elementary

More than 13 million children in the United States live in "food insecure" homes, according to research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That means those families don't regularly have enough food to eat, the most basic of all human needs. There is no possible excuse for children to go hungry in this country. Yet it happens - every day, in every community.

Did you know 19 percent of students experience the same food insecurity in Washington State? That means almost one in five children do not receive nutritionally adequate and safe foods.

Our state recently took a major step forward in addressing this issue through improving access to breakfast after the bell rings. Legislation will go into effect in the 2019-20 school year requiring all schools with 70 percent participation in the free and reduced meal program to offer breakfast after school begins.

Kent School District (KSD) is taking action now by offering this program before statewide implementation.

With our partner, United Way, who has been leading advocacy efforts in our state for the past five years, KSD was awarded a grant from Share Our Strength, a nationwide non-profit. This grant supports the startup of the Breakfast After the Bell program at Park Orchard Elementary School this year, giving every student the opportunity to start their day eating breakfast in the classroom, after the bell rings.

The results have been positive with the average number of students now eating breakfast rising from 125 to over 300 per day.

Research shows students who eat breakfast have better attendance, improved test scores, and are more likely to do better in school. Children often miss out on school breakfast because of barriers such as transportation or social stigmas. Breakfast After the Bell makes it easier for students to eat breakfast and start their day ready to learn.

Beginning with Park Orchard this year and expanding to other elementary schools next year, all students can start the school day with the fuel they need to be successful both academically, emotionally, and physically.

Breakfast After the Bell is a specific method, in alignment with our core value of equity for all students, used to achieve our mission by offering access to the most basic need– food. When students are not hungry, they can focus on learning and being successfully prepared for their futures.