Project Bread works to ensure that low-income children in Massachusetts have access to nutritious meals year-round by working with schools and community partners across the state to improve, expand, and increase participation in School Breakfast, Summer Eats, and our Chefs in Schools program.
When kids consistently start their school day with a nutritious meal, they have significantly less absences, improved grades, are 50% less likely to repeat a grade, and a 20% better chance of graduating high school.
486,000 kids—half of all MA public school students—eat the lunch served to them in their school's cafeteria.
Last year, an average of 60,000 meals were served each day to kids across the state through the Summer Meals program.
Students who consistently start their day with a healthy meal had an average 17.5% increase in their standardized math scores over students who skip breakfast.
Increasing participation in the federal school breakfast program
A student's day starts with breakfast
Children learn best when they start their day with breakfast. But right now, only half of all students who need school breakfast (low-income students who rely on free school lunch) are receiving it. When kids consistently start their school day with a nutrition meal, they have significantly less absences, improved grades, are half as likely to repeat a grade, and ultimately have better chances of graduating from high school. School breakfast is the first step to giving low-income children an equal chance to thrive.
Project Bread is taking hunger out of the equation by working with schools across the state to improve or start a school breakfast program. Our goal is for every student in Massachusetts to start their day with a healthy meal and reach their full potential. For many students, that chance starts with school breakfast.
For more than twenty years, Project Bread has teamed up with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education through our Child Nutrition Outreach Program to work hand-in-hand with schools across the state to serve up their best breakfast program for their students.
- Getting schools started. Getting schools started. A lot goes into starting a new program, and serving breakfast is no exception. Busing schedules, cafeteria equipment, staffing, finances, logistics, complying with regulations…it can be hard to know where to start. Project Bread helps schools every step of the way.
- Reaching more students. Serving breakfast after the bell has proven to increase student participation in school breakfast by up to 85%. Project Bread helps school evaluate and improve their existing programs
- Tools for success. Healthy recipes, suggested menu plans, resources for teachers, and handbooks for parents and administrators. Project Bread provides all the stakeholders with the resources needed for a successful program.
- A champion for hungry kids. Public policies impact hungry kids across the state. Project Bread advocates for state and federal policies that give every child the opportunity for a healthy start to the day.
Impact of our work: 2018
- 174 schools worked with Project Bread to start or improve their breakfast program
- 4,259 more low-income students ate breakfast each day in Massachusetts
- $1.2 million increase in federal reimbursements received by these schools as a result of higher participation in their breakfast programs
For communities seeking to expand their school breakfast program, resource are availble at www.meals4kids.org/breakfast.
Improving the quality of school meals in low-income school districts
Healthy school food matters
For children growing up in a low-income household, school meals are a major part of their daily nutrition. In fact, the food served in schools makes up half of the daily calories for more than 400,000 students in Massachusetts. It has a significant impact on their health, behavior, and their academic performance. That’s why Project Bread is committed to improving the quality of school food in low-income school districts across Massachusetts. With a Chefs in Schools intervention, we’ve proven that even with a school’s limited resources and budget, it is possible to prepare appealing, healthy meals that kids will not only eat, but also enjoy.
Schools have a unique opportunity to prevent children from experiencing hunger and malnutrition. There is no better access point to ensure children’s nutritional needs are being met. Despite progress, school food remains saturated with highly processed and pre-cooked foods. Since 2006, Project Bread’s Chefs in Schools program has been working with schools to put scratch-cooked meals back on the menu so children (and especially low-income children) are receiving the nutrition they need during critical years of child development:
- Creating a campaign for change. Replacing menu items and persuading kids to try new foods does not seem that challenging. But creating lasting change in a school’s food service department is surprisingly complex. Professional chefs are able to approach school food from both a business and culinary lens, while providing leadership in, and out of, the kitchens to start making permanent changes.
- Training & skills development. Cooking skills, equipment use, time management, food storage, ordering, inventory control, and selling better choices…our chefs train the school food staff on everything they will need to know to continue the work after they are gone for lasting change.
- Student taste-testing. It only helps if the students eat it! That is why taste-tests are so important. New recipes aren’t added to the lunch menu until they have been perfected through student feed-back and get the final thumbs up. And since they’ve already had it, they are more likely to choose it when it shows up on the menu.
- Building healthy habits.Kids and teens who eat fruits and vegetables are more likely to make lifelong healthy eating choices. For students who have limited or no access to fresh foods at home, Chefs in Schools is essential to meeting their nutritional needs as well as building healthy eating habits.
Impact of our work: 2015-2017
- 86,000 students have access to improved quality school food in 151 schools
Our Work: 2018/19 School Year
Project Bread is partnered with five MA school districts this year to implement district-wide changes to improve the quality of their school meals:
- New Bedford
- Codman Academy (Dorchester)
For school food service staff or parents and community members looking to make healthy changes to your school or districts breakfast and lunch programs, visit www.transformschoolfood.org for Chefs in Schools recipes and resources.
Bridging the summer hunger gap when kids lose access to school meals
Bridging the summer hunger gap
In Massachusetts, more than 400,000 students rely school meals. When school lets out for the summer, these kids lose out on a critical source of their daily nutrition. Summer Eats—the Massachusetts Summer Food Service Program—provides free meals to kids and teens during the summer months. Meals they may otherwise be going without. Project Bread works to expand access to Summer Eats to provide children with the nutrition they need to return to school healthy and ready to learn.
- 1 in 3 public school students who rely on school meals may not know where to turn when summer vacation begins.
- Hunger rises in the summer when children & teens lose access to school meals.
- Summer hunger can lead to learning loss & weight gain, putting low income youth at a disadvantage when they return to school in the fall.
For more than twenty years, Project Bread has teamed up with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education through our Child Nutrition Outreach Program to work hand-in-hand with summer meals sponsors and sites across the state to ensure all children have access to Summer Eats:
- Empowering communities. Starting or expanding a Summer Eats program is a community project. Project Bread brings all stakeholders to the table, from school districts to WIC offices to local churches or libraries, to build the best plan for ensuring all children have access to meals during the summer.
- Raising awareness. A lot of families who need Summer Eats, don’t know about it. Through multi-lingual state-wide promotion and outreach, Project Bread works to get the word out to communities and residents.
- Improving access. There can be any number of barriers keeping children and teens from participating in Summer Eats. Project Bread works to find solutions that make sense, from mobile trucks serving meals in rural communities to Summer Eats sites where kids already live, learn, and play—like at libraries, schools, and housing developments.
Impact of our work: 2018
- 1,100 Summer Eats sites across Massachusetts
- 48 new Summer Eats sites opened
- 57,134 kids and teens were fed each day at Summer Eats sites
- 2 million summer meals served
Find a Summer Eats site
- Visit: www.meals4kids.org/summer
- Text: "FOOD" or "COMIDA" to 877-877
- Call: 1-800-645-8333 (Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline)
- Download: the "SummerEats" App for iPhone and Android
Project Bread provides annual grants to support these programs statewide thanks to funding from Partners HealthCare Foundation, Share Our Strength, and our generous supporters—like you!
For communities seeking to expand their summer meals programming, resources are availble at www.meals4kids.org/summermeals.
Through diverse and strategic collaborations, we provide solutions in the places children go each day. We provide resources to help schools — and families — prepare nutritious, appealing food that kids truly want to eat. And together, we’re changing lives.
Looking for a summer meals site close to you? Download our SummerEats app for free!
Looking for materials to help promote Summer Eats? Download promotional materials and tools to get you started today, or request free printed materials online.
When given the chance, students have a lot to say about their school lunch, and we can learn a lot by listening. Project Bread's Chef Sam interviewed students during their lunch period to learn more about how we can continue to make lasting changes to improve the quality of their school meals.
Join us as we work to help children create good eating habits for a lifetime. We’re changing lives, with your support.
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