By ANSON NYGAARD/Montana State News
Gov. Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock have announced $100,000 in privately raised funds for Montana schools looking to put breakfast in the bellies of more students. The announcement came last Thursday on a visit to Kessler Elementary School in Helena.
The money, intended to cover start up equipment costs, is available to schools wishing to implement so-called Breakfast After the Bell programs by way of $5,000 mini grants from the Montana No Kid Hungry Campaign to Fight Childhood Hunger.
According to the Montana State Government website, “The goal of ‘Breakfast after the Bell’ is to increase participation in school breakfast programs.” The site claims that schools which have utilized past grant money for this purpose saw a rise in school breakfast participation from 30 percent to 70 percent. The idea is to make breakfast a part of the school day.
According to the national nonprofit organization Food Research and Action Center, “expanded availability, accessibility, and participation in the School Breakfast Program is one of the best ways to support the health and academic potential of children, particularly low-income children.”
Lisa Bullock put this simply, “To ensure the academic success of our students, breakfast is a necessity.”
A governor’s office press release claims 110 Montana schools have already made breakfast a part of their school day, 44 of them from previous No Kid Hungry grant funding. The governor’s website also acknowledges that “one in five children in Montana is hungry.”
At the announcement Bullock expounded on why that is. He said, “Several barriers exist that prevent students from getting the fuel they need to learn, such as limited food budgets, school buses arriving as the bell rings, and the stigma associated with breakfast only being offered for low-income kids. Breakfast after the Bell alleviates these problems and puts all students on a level playing field.”
– Edited by Brittany Wallace