HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — On any given day, many students wake up for school, hop on the bus, put some finishing touches on their homework, and go straight to class without having anything to eat.
This is the case for one student at Apple Valley Middle School in Henderson County, Zachary Johnson and he says it affects his work.
“Usually when I’m hungry, I’m not focusing right,” 8th grader Johnson said. “I usually ask my first quarter teacher if she has any food I can eat.”
7th grader Kayla Rudy shares a similar experience.
“I always ask my friends for food because I’m like hungry,” Rudy said. “I’ts kind of weird because people don’t like sharing their food.”
To help fight this hunger and lack of focus, Henderson County Public Schools announced the expansion of its Universal Breakfast programming to Apple Valley Middle, North Henderson High, and East Henderson High, offering “Second Chance Breakfast” opportunities at no cost to students there.
Universal Breakfast means breakfast is available in the cafeteria for any and all students, free of charge, before school begins, according to a press release.
Studies show hunger limit’s students ability to focus in the classroom, something Superintendent Bo Caldwell said affects the entire school. Caldwell said if students don’t eat, teachers can’t teach.
“Our goal is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to eat breakfast – as I believe students are able to study, retain information, and perform at a higher level when they are not hungry,” said Superintendent Bo Caldwell in a press release. “By making these grab-and-go meals available in between classes, students can eat on their own terms and reduce the food insecurity for some students.”
Apple Valley Middle School principal Peggy Marshall said the number of students eating breakfast has doubled in just a week.
“We went from feeding about 20% of our students breakfast to now 40, and our goal is to keep increasing that number,” Principal Marshall said. “We can’t wait to see what the positive benefits are going to be for our students.”
Kayla Rudy said she’s already started seeing some of those benefits for herself.
“It’s helped me focus, made me wake up and feel more energized.” Rudy said.
Another student at Apple Valley Middle told News 13 making the breakfast free and available for everyone takes away the shame and stigma of being hungry during the day.
School officials said they hope to increase the amount of breakfast served.