Governor Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper have been committed to ending childhood hunger in North Carolina. Through funding from Share Our Strength’s national No Kid Hungry campaign, their offices are working to expand access to school breakfast in 12 identified districts around the state. The funding, available late this year, is intended to support the start of a new Breakfast After the Bell program for serving breakfast in one or more schools in each eligible district. Many schools across the state have already implemented Breakfast After the Bell programs that are cost effective, efficient, and remove stigma. With additional districts expanding access to breakfast, we hope to learn how to take these examples and implement innovative solutions statewide so that administrators, lawmakers, parents, and students understand the social, emotional, physical, and academic benefits of starting the day with a healthy meal.
The following 12 public school districts in North Carolina are eligible for funding through this opportunity: Alamance-Burlington School System, Anson County Schools, Cabarrus County Schools, Cumberland County Schools, Edgecombe County Schools, Gaston County Schools, Johnston County Schools, Kannapolis City Schools, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, Public Schools of Robeson County, Wayne County Public Schools, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. These 12 public school districts met specific criteria set by the NC School Breakfast Leadership Team, comprised of Ilina Ewen, Chief of Staff to the First Lady of North Carolina; Kristen Guillory, Education Policy Advisor at the Office of the Governor; Dr. Rob Taylor, Superintendent of Bladen County Schools; Helen Roberts, School Breakfast Program Manager at No Kid Hungry North Carolina; and Lynn Harvey, Chief of School Nutrition Services at the NC Department of Public Instruction. Selection criteria is based on meal claim data for the 2017-18 school year, provided by the NC Department of Public Instruction, showing the opportunity for growth in school breakfast participation.
Breakfast After the Bell Models include:
- Breakfast in the Classroom – Students eat breakfast in their classroom after the official start of the school day.
- Grab and Go to the Classroom – Students pick up conveniently packaged breakfasts from mobile service carts in high traffic areas that are convenient to students, such as hallways, entryways or cafeterias.
- Second Chance Breakfast – Students eat breakfast during a break in the morning, often between first and second period or midway between breakfast and lunch. This model can be particularly effective for middle or high school students.
Almost 60% of students in North Carolina qualify for free and reduced meals at school, but only 42% of those students get school breakfast. There are many obstacles that prevent students from accessing school breakfast. Chief among those barriers that keep students from taking advantage of school breakfast include timing, location, transportation challenges, and the stigma and shaming that might be associated with eating school meals. There are creative solutions to make breakfast more accessible for every student. The Governor and First Lady would like to see these efforts expanded to ensure more students start their day ready to learn.