School breakfasts and dinners fuel the future

By United Way of King County, on August 31, 2016 | In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Empty lunch boxes. Empty Bellies.

Pencils sharpened. Lessons planned. Books shelved.  As the new school year begins, parents, teachers and school leaders are doing everything they can to set students up for a successful year. A new school year is filled with opportunity, excitement, and challenges – especially for schools serving families who struggle with poverty. These teachers and school leaders know that closing the achievement gap isn’t just about academics. They know that for students to be successful they need help accessing basic needs like housing, clothing, school supplies, and nutritious food.

Solving poverty is complex. Filling empty bellies shouldn’t be.

One in five area students struggle with hunger. Hungry students struggle to learn and thrive – but we have a solution. Federal nutrition programs like school breakfast, school lunch and after school suppers can make sure that kids have access to healthy and nutritious meals all day long – filling bellies and fueling minds. In fact – research shows that students who eat school breakfast miss less school and perform better on tests. Win. Win.

Unfortunately, the majority of eligible students in King County are missing out on free breakfast and after school suppers.  Too many barriers are getting in the way. That means we have thousands of students with empty bellies in our classrooms and we are missing the opportunity to leverage millions of dollars to reduce hunger and improve family financial stability in our community. Simply put: we are failing our future by not taking advantage of these resources.

United Way and our partners at No Kid Hungry and the Social Innovation Fund are working to tackle hunger with the Fuel Your Future Campaign. We’re seeing success at schools like Showalter Middle School and West Seattle Elementary. Now we are urging parents and leaders to team up with United Way to bring these efforts to more King County Schools.

Together with school leaders we can make sure that no kid is hungry in our community this year by:

  • Improving access to school breakfast with Breakfast After The Bell
  • Leveraging the new bell time changes in Seattle Public Schools to improve Breakfast Participation
  • Make school meals free with community eligibility
  • Serve thousands of kids a healthy after school meal

Schools can’t solve poverty alone but they should leverage resources that are available. School meals are a critical tool and as a community we can and must reduce barriers to accessing these programs.

The solution is in front of us – let’s make the leap this school year.


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