New grants will help public schools provide nutritious school breakfast to more children to support their health, development and learning
RALEIGH – Today, Governor Roy Cooper announced that he is directing $1.4 million in federal funding to assist schools in expanding school breakfast programs. The funds will be used to provide grants to school districts and charter schools to assist with implementing innovative school breakfast models to expand student participation in school breakfast. The Governor is partnering with the North Carolina Alliance for Health (NCAH) and the Carolina Hunger Initiative (CHI) on the program. The Governor made this announcement at Glenn Elementary School in Durham where he served students breakfast in their classroom and spoke with teachers and cafeteria staff.
“A child who is hungry can’t learn and many children can’t or won’t eat when they have to get up so early,” said Governor Cooper. “Innovative efforts that get breakfast to children in the classroom are proven to encourage them to eat which will improve their educational success.”
“We are grateful for the opportunity to support school nutrition programs in implementing innovative school breakfast models,” said Morgan Wittman Gramann, executive director of NCAH. “We can all agree that no child should go hungry and we all benefit when every child has access to the nutrition they need to reach their full potential.”
“School meals are an instructional intervention,” said Lou Anne Crumpler, Director of the Carolina Hunger Initiative. “From reducing chronic absenteeism to improving reading achievement, small changes to how school breakfast is served can make big impacts on student success. In recent years, more than 60 percent of NC’s public-school students were eligible for free and reduced-price school meals, showing the big difference these programs make on children in need.”
NCAH and CHI will use the funds to administer a competitive grant program that will provide grants of up to $50,000 per school nutrition program to assist in implementing innovative school breakfast models, such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Second Chance Breakfast, and Grab and Go Breakfast. These innovative school breakfast models have been shown to increase school breakfast participation, especially among students who qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch.
The more than 600 schools that are offering free school breakfast and lunch to all students for the first time during the 2023-24 school year through the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program will be given priority for the grants. The federal Community Eligibility Provision program subsidizes free meals for all students in schools with high percentages of low-income and at-risk students. NCAH and CHI will also be providing technical assistance to grant recipients focused on effective ways for implementing school breakfast programs.
Research shows that eating a healthy school breakfast and lunch improves student attendance, discipline, and academic performance, and this investment is part of the Governor’s ongoing commitment to ensuring all students have access to a sound basic education. The Governor included in his 2023-25 budget proposal recurring funding to offset the co-pays for students eligible for reduced-price lunches in schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.
The Governor also proposed a pilot program that provides funding to assist eligible schools in participating in the federal Community Eligibility Provision program, which will help more students receive free school breakfast and lunch. Both of those programs were funded in House Bill 259, the final version of the State budget.
Funding for this initiative is from federal Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS) funds that have reverted to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund.