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Groups Launch "Let's Do Breakfast Oregon" for Schools

PHOTO: Some Oregon schools have joined others across the country offering breakfast during first period so kids don't have to show up early for a cafeteria meal. March 3-6 is National School Breakfast Week. Photo courtesy of Chalkbeat Colorado.
PHOTO: Some Oregon schools have joined others across the country offering breakfast during first period so kids don't have to show up early for a cafeteria meal. March 3-6 is National School Breakfast Week. Photo courtesy of Chalkbeat Colorado.
March 2, 2015

McMINNVILLE, Ore. - This is National School Breakfast Week, and a chance for hunger-fighting advocates in Oregon to push for getting more meals to more kids during the school day.

"Let's Do Breakfast Oregon" is a new awareness campaign to encourage more schools to serve breakfast in the first few minutes of first period. Annie Kirschner, program director with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, says legislation (HB 2846) in Salem would allow that without compromising teachers' instructional time. She predicts the bill will pass.

"The state is really recognizing that breakfast is a tool to be ready for school, in the same way that school books and pencils are," says Kirschner. "And it's in the best interest for all of us as a community that our kids do well in school."

Other partners for "Let's Do Breakfast Oregon" are the state Department of Education and the Oregon Dairy Council, which is offering grants to help schools that might need extra equipment for expanding breakfast programs.

Districts often start small when they serve breakfast "after the bell" instead of in the cafeteria. In McMinnville, what began last year in just one elementary school is branching out to others in the district.

Cinthia Hiatt-Henry, the nutrition services director, surveyed the first teachers and staff members who tried it and 86 percent gave it their recommendation.

"They also said it reduced the number of trips to the nurse's station; that it increased students' attention span," Hiatt-Henry says. "I think about half of them said it reduced the number of tardies; you couldn't really ask for better results."

She says the McMinnville district is now serving 30,000 more breakfasts since setting a goal a year ago to give more kids in need a healthy morning meal.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR