Sunday, September 11, 2016

Day 3: #SchoolBreakfastChallenge

No breakfast today
Ugh, the "NO breakfast card" again.  I have a long drive today so I may have to use my "visit the nurse" pass. Talk to any school nurse and you'll quickly learn why some kids visit so frequently. While "stomachaches" and "headaches" are the ruse, most often kids who have nothing to eat in the morning know that the nurse always has snacks on hand. Many K-6 teachers, in addition to buying their own classroom supplies, also stock up on snacks for kids who aren't getting enough to eat at home and can't get breakfast at school. 

How many of you jump on the computer as soon as you get to work? Now try doing that without your morning coffee or snack. How many kids are jumping on computers, solving math problems, writing and reading without any "fuel?" 

I remember attending a statewide breakfast summit hosted by our good friends at End Hunger CT.  The most insidious takeaway was hearing how some school systems in Connecticut, that did not serve breakfast on a typical day, made sure the kids have breakfast on national test days! Gee, why do they do that? Do they thinks kids who have breakfast might actually perform better? Hmmm...

I'm a little off as I start my drive. I fended off my last "no breakfast" headache by taking some aspirin, probably not the best thing on an empty stomach. No aspirin on hand today. OK, I can't do this. I am bending the rules, pulling over for coffee and a snack. I will "grab and go." 

Which reminds me, while participation in school breakfast still lags in our region, there are some exciting things happening at the community level. In a great example of community collaboration, Foodshare's Hunger Acton Team in Bloomfieldworking alongside school foodservice and the townhelped spark a "grab and go" breakfast program. While breakfast in the classroom is optimal, "grab and go" is way better then breakfast before the bell. When done right, it can incorporate many kids without calling attention to those who are "in need." They are still rolling out more expanded involvement, but already participation numbers are climbing in Bloomfield. They have the second best participation rate in the region!

The shining star for school breakfast in Greater Hartford is, hands down, New Britain. I have only been here a year and it is clear they are doing everything right, engaging the entire community in an effort to connect more kids with food.  On Wednesday, I will wrap up this week-long challenge by joining local foodservice leaders and school administrators in New Britain for a very special breakfast in the classroom where I hope to get even more details about the great work they are doing. 

As I write this blog I understand the "new" superintendent of schools in Hartford is moving on. We all make life choices, but I hope whomever takes her placeas well as the committee that hires the next superintendenttakes into account health and nutrition as a building block of education. Academics in the absence of a holistic approach to nurturing our children underserves the community.

James Arena-DeRosa, President & CEO

Join the conversation by commenting below or sharing your thoughts on social media. Don't forget to tag @Foodshare and use the hashtag #SchoolBreakfastChallenge.

You can also follow my fellow CEO at the Connecticut Food Bank, Bernie Beaudreau, as he shares his SNAP Challenge experience this week.

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