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School Breakfast is Important

Kane Elementary student with lunch

by Eugenia Chow, Richard Comeau, Jessica Dietrich, Matthew McClure, Katie Raymond, Devin Schroeder, and Taz Shah

More than 1 in 5 children in Oklahoma experience food insecurity, meaning they lack adequate nutrition to learn and grow to their fullest potential. Hunger Free Oklahoma (HFO) and partners are committed to ensuring more children are fed more often; school meals are one great tool communities have at their disposal to nourish and support children and families in need. Increasing access to school meals helps ensure more Oklahoma students have a consistent source of meals upon which they can rely.

We invite partners to show your commitment to this work by reading the Support School Breakfast Letter and signing on through the form linked below.

Sign On to Support School Breakfast 

We, the undersigned, see school breakfast as an invaluable part of addressing childhood hunger and getting students off to a great start to their school day, full and ready to focus. While Oklahomans have faced unprecedented levels of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, school nutrition teams and partner organizations across the state have persisted in connecting students to meals both in and out of school.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahoma was making great strides in increasing school breakfast participation. However, despite ongoing efforts average daily participation in school breakfast dropped from over 199,000 students per day in the 2018-2019 school year to just over 157,000 in the 2020-2021 school year – a 27% decrease in children accessing school breakfast.1 While we have lost important ground during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many innovations and lessons learned that can and should inform our work moving forward as we rebuild momentum for this critical program.

School breakfast sets students up for success in the classroom and beyond. Offering breakfast has been shown to improve academic performance, attendance,2 and decrease the risk of marginal food insecurity and childhood obesity.3 Schools who serve breakfast as part of the school day report that students are more alert, engaged, and take fewer trips to the principal’s office.2 Breakfast After the Bell models build healthy habits for life by making breakfast a regular part of the school day and have been shown to further increase student participation and school reimbursement for meals.4

As we work to increase access to school breakfast, a new standard must be set to ensure all students begin the day nourished and ready to learn. We call on our partners across Oklahoma to support expansion and widespread implementation of school breakfast programs that will improve long-term health outcomes and increase academic achievements for students, bolstering the educational infrastructure of Oklahoma.

When students go hungry, every Oklahoman is affected—from families to educators to administrators. It is within our collective power to support child nutrition programs that can meet food access needs and combat hunger. Join Hunger Free Oklahoma and the undersigned by pledging to support school breakfast expansion and implementation for all Oklahomans.

Complete this form to sign on and show your support for school breakfast in Oklahoma.

School Breakfast Report Coming Soon

School breakfast is a powerful opportunity to increase access to food for Oklahoma children. To highlight the benefits, best practices, and obstacles to implementing a school breakfast program, HFO created a School Breakfast Report which will be released soon. The School Breakfast Report draws on survey responses from educators and school nutrition professionals, as well as data examining the progress of school breakfast programs in Oklahoma.

Be on the lookout for more information about the School Breakfast Report coming soon!

1 Average Daily Participation (ADP) is calculated by Hunger Free Oklahoma using data obtained from the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Because of challenges related to COVID-19 and reporting, HFO has used a simplified calculation for ADP. Additional detail on the steps used to calculate ADP can be found in the forthcoming 2022 School Breakfast Report Card.

2 Research Brief: Breakfast for Health. Food Research and Action Center. October 2016

3 Research Brief: Breakfast for Learning. Food Research and Action Center. October 2016

4 Talking Points for Introducing Breakfast After the Bell to Stakeholders. No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices.

Working together for a hunger free Oklahoma.

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