Salem is one of five cities in Massachusetts that has received a $50,000 grant from the Eos Foundation’s Nourishing Kids Initiative to fund a pilot program of breakfast in the classroom for children at the Carlton, Bates, Bentley, and Horace Mann elementary schools.
Salem Public Schools offers a universal free breakfast program already, but data showed participation was generally low and teachers reported that student hunger by mid-morning was hindering learning. An earlier pilot program of Breakfast in the Classroom was undertaken at the Bates School in the Spring of 2013 and had 98% participation. Teachers at the school reported afterward that it was not disruptive to the classroom day and that students were able to better concentrate throughout the morning after having eaten.
Individually packaged USDA approved breakfast foods will be transported from the café to the classroom in rolling coolers and the students will eat at their desks during the first ten minutes of class as their teacher takes attendance and prepares morning activities.
Salem and other selected school districts will receive NKI funding in school year 2013-2014. These districts are committed to providing universal free breakfast served in the classroom after the bell in several pilot schools this year, with the goal of expanding the breakfast program to all K-8 schools district-wide.
“We are very excited to be able to offer this program through the generous support of the Eos Foundation,” said Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, who also chairs the Salem School Committee. “The connection between a healthy breakfast and positive learning is well established. By nourishing our students’ bodies, we can better nourish their minds in the classroom.”
“Many children living in poverty often have their healthiest meal of the day at school,” said Andrea Silbert, president of the Eos Foundation. “We strongly believe that serving breakfast to all students at school will enhance the health and academic outcomes for children throughout the Commonwealth. It’s critical to support programs like this that help fill an urgent but often overlooked need.”
“We're very excited to join in partnership with the EOS Foundation to insure that every Salem student has a healthy breakfast,” said Salem Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Russell.