RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Terry McAuliffe joined Richmond students for breakfast today.
McAuliffe visited Miles Jerome Jones Elementary School in Richmond, where he praised the staff’s efforts to boost school breakfast participation. First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe visited William Ramsay Elementary in Alexandria on Monday morning. She delivered a similar message of thanks to school staff there.
Over 300 schools in the Commonwealth have changed how they service breakfast to their students this school year. The changes have resulted in a year-over-year increase of 21,000 students participating in the National School Breakfast Program.
At the start of the 2015-2016 school year, schools across Virginia committed to getting more students the breakfast they need through solutions like serving breakfast in the classroom or from grab-and-go carts at the start of the school day. It’s all a part of the First Lady’s efforts to end child hunger throughout the state with the No Kid Hungry Virginia initiative, part of the national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength.
“Kids can’t be hungry for knowledge if they’re just plain hungry,” said Dorothy McAuliffe, First Lady of Virginia. “That’s why breakfast can change a student’s life. It means more focused students and higher test scores, leading to higher graduation rates and better employment outcomes down the line.”
Carver Elementary School in Newport News has implemented a breakfast program that’s produced positive results in both the school’s culture and student performance.
“There has been a 28 percent decrease in tardiness and there have been zero discipline referrals related to breakfast routines. Overall, the school day begins with a positive tone,” said Carver Principal Izzie R. Brown. “Breakfast in the Classroom has had a very positive effect on the culture of the school day. The morning mad dash to be in the front of the breakfast line has been replaced with a family style sharing of a nutritious meal. Students enter their class, get their breakfast and read silently while eating or participate in morning meetings.”
In the state’s 2015 budget, More than $500,000 was allocated to help schools reach more students eligible for free and reduced-price meals with school breakfast by making it part of the school day. In his introduced budget, Governor McAuliffe doubled the yearly investment, providing over $2 million dollars to schools to grow their breakfast programs over the next two years.
According the 2016 Virginia School Breakfast Report released this week by Virginia Hunger Solutions and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) at Monday’s event, the state is on a promising path.
“A strong School Breakfast Program is essential to ending childhood hunger as well as ensuring that students start the school day ready to learn.” said the report. “Virginia has made notable progress in getting this important meal to children. Nevertheless, significant room for growth remains.”
“More than 300,000 children in Virginia are food insecure,” said Duke Storen, senior director at Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. “Partners are coming together from across the Commonwealth to make sure every kid is connected to the healthy food they need every day. That starts with school breakfast.”