Making sure students get breakfast “after the bell”

I was a lunch lady before I became a teacher. I know that when students are hungry, it’s nearly impossible for them to do anything that takes brainpower.

The School Breakfast Program has been a blessing for many students. Sometimes, it provides the only meals they can count on. But there are still a lot of vulnerable students in our communities.

Some children don’t make it to school in time for breakfast. And while many school districts provide a free breakfast to all students, in schools that do not, those who really need a meal sometimes don’t participate because they are too embarrassed.

That’s why “Breakfast After the Bell” is such a good idea.

The NEA Foundation is partnering with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign in a fellowship program to help educators bring more breakfast options to students.

The fellowships are open to NEA members across the  spectrum of education careers. Recipients will receive a $1,000 stipend and up to $3,000 to purchase equipment such as coolers, hotboxes, kiosks, trashcans, recycling bins, and cleaning supplies. This way, students can pick up a boiled egg and fruit in the hallway, for example, to carry to their classrooms. Educators can come up with other creative options for getting food to students who need it.

NEA members interested in the program must take part in an informational webinar on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. (EST), or listen to the recording. Grant applications are due on October 8; they are available from the NEA Foundation here.

The fellowship lasts for 10 months. During that time, educators will work with their schools to design and begin an “after the bell” breakfast program. They’ll receive in-person and online training and support to get their programs going. Recipients will  present their work at an NEA state or local conference or meeting. They will also engage with other educators interested in the same work.

According to a No Kid Hungry campaign study, educators spend an average of $300 each year on snacks for their students. We know they can’t be curious, imaginative, and engaged when they’re focused on how hungry they are. “Breakfast After the Bell” gives us an opportunity to take care of the basics so our students can learn.


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