By Tiffany Danitz Pache, VTDigger.org
A pilot program looking at ways to get more kids to eat school breakfast has confirmed what many might suspect: It helps to serve it after the start of the school day.
The initial Breakfast After the Bell Challenge increased the number of students eating school breakfasts by at least 20 percent in nine of the 11 participating schools, according to those behind the campaign.
“It also shows that different strategies to move breakfast after the bell can work to increase participation,” said Anore Horton, the nutrition initiatives director at Hunger Free Vermont. “The most effective strategy at the elementary school level is to provide breakfast in the classroom and make it universal — meaning no student is charged for breakfast. That combination of strategies led to the highest participation increase.”
In Vermont, 98 percent of schools offer breakfast, according to Hunger Free Vermont, which says about 45 percent of children who qualify for free meals — and 25 percent of all students — take advantage of it.