(GILLETTE STADIUM, FOXBOROUGH, MA—December 2nd, 2015) – School leaders and decision-makers experienced the 2015 Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge (MSBC) Summit today at Gillette Stadium where they participated in a series of workshops offering innovative solutions to increasing student participation in school breakfast. Research indicates that school breakfast is linked to student success both academically and socially. The event was hosted by the MSBC partners in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, as well as other regional, state, and local influencers.
The MSBC is a state-wide focus on the importance of breakfast spearheaded by the Child Nutrition Programs at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC), the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts (SNA of MA), the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), the Eos Foundation, and the Child Nutrition Outreach Program at Project Bread (CNOP). The MSBC aims to increase breakfast participation in all districts across Massachusetts.
School breakfast is significant because providing breakfast to students at school, according to the research done by the Food, Research and Action Center (FRAC), improves their concentration, alertness, comprehension, memory, and learning. In Massachusetts more than 400,000 students qualify for free and reduced price meals.
“A nutritious breakfast plays an essential role in all aspects of a child’s life, including their ability to learn, grow and thrive in the classroom,” said Under Secretary Concannon. “And since many children today consume half of their daily calories while at school, we want to ensure the healthy choice is the easy choice for them and their families.”
Last year Massachusetts increased participation in school breakfast programs among students qualifying for free and reduced priced meals by almost 10%, one of the largest increases in the country. Building on this momentum, MA ESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester stated that time spent on Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) can now count towards the school’s structured learning time. This policy recommendation eliminated logistical concerns for school administrators and teachers implementing this innovative breakfast model.
“Over the past year, we’ve taken monumental steps to increasing breakfast participation” said Robert Leshin, Acting Director for the Office for Nutrition, Health & Safety Programs at the MA ESE. “Today’s event is an extension of the Commonwealth’s commitment to ensuring all of our students have access to the nutritious food necessary for success in the classroom. The MSBC partners and I are looking forward to carrying the momentum from today forward throughout the rest of the year”
As part of the celebration, attendees enjoyed remarks from USDA FNS Under Secretary Kevin Concannon; Jason Wentworth, Assistant commissioner of MDAR; Lea Susan Ojamaa, director of Division of Prevention and Wellness at DPH; Robert M. Leshin, acting director of Office of Nutrition Health and Safety Programs at DESE, and Tyler Seller, Massachusetts Fuel Up to Play 60 student ambassador.
“I had the opportunity today to speak to a group of influencers about how school breakfast has helped me succeed as a student. The fact that I am here today just goes to show how powerful good nutrition can be,” said Seller.
The National School Breakfast Program is a federally-funded program that provides reimbursement to public schools, private schools, and residential child care institutions that serve breakfast. Participating schools must comply with federal nutrition standards and make breakfast available to all children. In Massachusetts, the program is administered by the DESE, with outreach performed by the DESE Child Nutrition Outreach Program at Project Bread.
To learn more about the Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge, please visit www.maschoolbreakfast.org.
About Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, sometimes referred to as the Massachusetts Department of Education, is the state education agency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is responsible for public education at the elementary and secondary levels, and is governed by the Massachusetts Board of Education. For more information, visit www.doe.mass.edu.
About the Child Nutrition Outreach Program at Project Bread
The Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) works to increase participation in two underutilized federal child nutrition programs, the National School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program. Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and administered by Project Bread, CNOP has been supporting school nutrition directors, superintendents, principals, and other school personnel since 1994. For more information, visit; www.meals4kids.org , www.facebook.com/ChildNutri, or www.twitter.com/ChildNutri.
About the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – MDAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit: www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/.
About New England Dairy & Food Council
New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC) is a non-profit nutrition education organization staffed by registered dietitians. NEDFC is a state and regional affiliate of the National Dairy Council® (NDC). Our goal is to ensure that health professionals, scientists, media and educators have a credible body of nutrition information upon which to base health recommendations. For more information, visit www.newenglanddairycouncil.org.
About Fuel Up to Play 60
Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council (NDC) and National Football League (NFL), with additional partnership support from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is designed to engage and empower youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools. Customizable and non-prescriptive program components are grounded in research with youth, including tools and resources, in-school promotional materials, a website and student challenges. Fuel Up to Play 60 is further supported by several health and nutrition organizations: Action for Healthy Kids, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association and School Nutrition Association. Visit FuelUpToPlay60.com to learn more.
About the EOS Foundation
The Eos Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in children's futures. Through grants and technical assistance, we partner with school communities across the Commonwealth to combat childhood hunger and support academic achievement by increasing school breakfast participation via Breakfast in the Classroom programming, ensuring that all students start their day ready to learn. For more information, visit: www.eosfoundation.org.