Illinois State Board of Education, Midwest Dairy Council and the Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign Launch School Breakfast Challenge

Public-private partnership challenges all Illinois schools to increase school breakfast participation.

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Chicago, Illinois (PRWEB) January 31, 2014

Education officials today announced that the Illinois State Board of Education is partnering with Midwest Dairy Council® and the Illinois No Kid Hungry® Campaign on the 2013-2014 Illinois School Breakfast Challenge, which will award $36,000 in cash prizes to 12 schools across the state for significantly increasing their daily breakfast participation rates.

"No child should start the school day hungry,” said Chris Koch, Illinois State Board of Education Executive Director. “The state of Illinois offers a federally-funded School Breakfast Program, however, less than half of those students who qualify participate,” Koch explained. “We know there’s a connection between a healthy breakfast and academic achievement, and that’s why this program is so important for our students and their futures.”

“Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis,” a new report conducted by Deloitte and the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices, finds federal programs like school breakfast are important in the fight to end childhood hunger. In fact, students who eat school breakfast have been shown to achieve 17.5 percent higher scores on standardized math tests, attend 1.5 more days of school per year, and are 20 percent more likely to graduate from high school.

A 2011 report by Feeding America found that 745,000 Illinois children are at risk of hunger, about one in five children. Today, thanks in part to the Illinois School Breakfast Challenge, about 350,000 of those children are now eating a healthy breakfast at school, up 15.9 percent between the 2010-2011 and the 2011-2012 school years, according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) School Breakfast Scorecard for School Year 2011-2013, released January 2013.

All Illinois schools participating in the School Breakfast Program are automatically entered to take part in the Illinois Breakfast Challenge. Participation increase will be calculated by comparing the School Breakfast Program average daily participation rate for the 2012-2013 school year with the 2013-2014 school year. Schools must have a minimum average daily participation of 10 and an increase of at least 20 percent to quality. There will be four tiers for the Challenge, based on enrollment, with each tier awarding three prizes: $5,000, $3,000 and $1,000. Winning schools will be announced in spring 2014.

“We’re hopeful that the Illinois School Breakfast Challenge will incentivize many schools to implement new school breakfast service models, such as breakfast in the classroom and grab-n-go breakfasts, that are proven to break down hurdles that keep students from getting a nutritious breakfast,” said Robin Brown, RD, LDN, health and wellness program manager for Midwest Dairy Council. “We recommend that the winning schools use the cash prizes for health and wellness activities, based on new research that reinforces the ‘learning connection’ – the crucial link between nutrition, physical activity and academic performance.”

The Illinois School Breakfast Challenge is part of the Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign launched in 2012 with support from the Illinois Commission to End Hunger and Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit which supports No Kid Hungry efforts in 17 states. “We are working with schools to supply grants, resources and technical assistance to help them switch from traditional school breakfast programs to these new models that make it easier for students to start the day with a healthy meal,” said Dawn Melchiorre, Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign Manager.

The Illinois No Kid Hungry campaign is generously supported by lead sponsors Walmart and Jimmy Dean, sponsored by the Arby’s Foundation and the Irving Harris Foundation and supported by Weight Watchers®. The Illinois No Kid Hungry campaign is part of Share Our Strength’s national No Kid Hungry campaign with efforts supported by Share Our Strength’s national core partners ConAgra Foods Foundation, Walmart and the Food Network.

Go to http://www.NoKidHungry.org/Illinois to learn more about the Campaign. Visit http://www.midwestdairy.com to learn more about Midwest Dairy Council.

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Midwest Dairy Council®, an affiliate of National Dairy Council, is the nutrition education division of Midwest Dairy Association. The Council is dedicated to dairy nutrition research and education through the investment of more than 9,100 dairy farm families across 10 Midwestern states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma), and is committed to child health and wellness through our collaborative program, Fuel Up to Play 60. For more information, visit http://www.midwestdairy.com. Follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

About Share Our Strength
Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid Hungry® campaign – a national effort to end childhood hunger in America – Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in effective federal nutrition programs; invests in community organizations fighting hunger; teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals; and builds public-private partnerships to end childhood hunger, at the state and city level. Working closely with the culinary industry and relying on the strength of its volunteers, Share Our Strength hosts innovative culinary fundraising events and develops pioneering cause-marketing campaigns that support No Kid Hungry. Visit Strength.org to get involved.


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