Hunger-Free Minnesota's School Breakfast Initiative Announces 2014-15 School Breakfast Challenge

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60 Minnesota schools to receive financial incentives to increase breakfast participation and prepare students for academic success.

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We are proud to support our schools, principals, teachers and nutrition directors to ensure that more students are also able to start their school day with a nutritious breakfast that sets them up for academic success.

The School Breakfast Initiative announced today that it is launching its 2014-15 School Breakfast Challenge to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program among low-income Minnesota students. Up to 60 schools will be selected to receive financial incentive to increase participation in school breakfast.

The School Breakfast Initiative is a partnership between Hunger-Free Minnesota and Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota. Financial support comes from the General Mills Foundation and Cargill.

“Earlier this week, Governor Mark Dayton pledged to include $3.5 million in his supplemental budget request to ensure that no Minnesota student is denied access to a hot meal at lunchtime,” said Ellie Lucas, chief campaign officer for Hunger-Free Minnesota. “We applaud the Governor’s commitment to Minnesota’s children and we are proud to support our schools, principals, teachers and nutrition directors to ensure that more students are also able to start their school day with a nutritious breakfast that sets them up for academic success.”

Surveys of school teachers by No Kid Hungry, along with other studies by the University of Minnesota, overwhelmingly show that school breakfast works to keep kids focused, behaved, and learning. Patti Roberts, principal at Sunnyside Elementary School in Red Wing, who participated in the 2013-14 School Breakfast Challenge shared her thoughts on the importance of school breakfast in a video created by Hunger-Free Minnesota.

“I see hunger every morning, every day at our school,” said Roberts. “We feel very strongly that if the basic needs of our children are not met, they are not going to be good learners.”

What is the School Breakfast Challenge?
The 2014-15 School Breakfast Challenge will provide 60 selected schools with $2,500 in unrestricted funds to invest in increasing school breakfast participation in addition to $0.25 per meal incentive served to free-and reduced-price (F/R) eligible children over the prior school year up to 25,000 meals. More information and the application are available at:

The Need
Research studies by Deloitte/No Kid Hungry and the National Dairy Council, demonstrate that children who start their day with a nutritious school breakfast have a better attendance record, higher math test scores, and improved graduation rates. 320,000 students in Minnesota are eligible for free and reduced-cost meals. Low utilization of free and reduced-cost meals from the Minnesota School Breakfast Program is widespread across school districts. Overall usage of the federally funded school breakfast program is only 45 percent.

Overcoming Barriers to School Breakfast Participation
The $2,500 grants will be unrestricted and will help schools to cover implementation costs. In addition to financial support, the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota will work with selected schools to connect them with resources such as information on successful models, promotional materials, and lessons learned and will help them identify other potential funding opportunities. This work will include identifying barriers to participation such as time constraints, transportation issues and lack of awareness.

“Our goal is to eliminate barriers for schools so more children who come to school hungry can get a healthy breakfast to set them up for learning,” said Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota executive director Peggy Flanagan. “We have been working across the state over the past year and have seen marked success. Schools that have increased their breakfast utilization have seen increases in daily attendance and academic performance and decreases in behavioral issues, illness and trips to the nurse.”

School Breakfast Initiative Partners

  •     Hunger-Free Minnesota
  •     Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota
  •     General Mills Foundation
  •     Cargill Foundation
  •     Minnesota Department of Education
  •     Midwest Dairy Council
  •     Office of Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner-Solon

“Our support of the School Breakfast Challenge comes from our belief that our community will be stronger if we look for opportunities to collaborate,” said Ellen Luger, executive director of the General Mills Foundation. “Wherever we get involved, the goal is to live our mission of Nourishing Lives.”

“Cargill is proud to partner with Hunger-Free Minnesota to support the School Breakfast Initiative,” said Tola Oyewole, director of the Cargill Foundation. “Hunger-Free Minnesota addresses the issue of childhood hunger and academic performance for educational success.”

About Hunger-Free Minnesota
Hunger-Free Minnesota is a time-limited campaign to close the 100-million missing-meal gap in Minnesota. Focused on eight targeted initiatives that combined will add 60 million new meals to the hunger-relief system, Hunger-Free Minnesota funds innovative strategies in emergency food system capacity, sourcing nutritious food options, enrollment and utilization of federal nutrition programs, and health outcomes for food insecure populations. More information is available at [

About Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota
Established in 1985, Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota is the only policy organization in the state to focus solely on the needs of children. CDF-Minnesota targets all Minnesota children, particularly children being raised in low-income households who suffer greater barriers to full participation in society. CDF-Minnesota pays particular attention to the needs of our most vulnerable children. To achieve its goals, CDF-Minnesota conducts research, helps connect families with public work support programs, educates the community about issues affecting children, and advocates for effective tax, social and health policies on behalf of the state’s children.

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Christine Tsang
Henry Schafer
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