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Vol. 46, No. 60
August 20, 2012

State Education Agency Launches School Breakfast Challenge

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is partnering with the Midwest Dairy Council on the Missouri School Breakfast Challenge, an initiative to increase daily school breakfast participation in school districts across the state, education officials announced today.

"Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast daily improves a student's academic achievement, school behavior and attendance," said Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "The challenge ties in to the Department's goal to become one of the top 10 performing states in education by the year 2020."

Nicastro added, "We know that many kids eat breakfast at home, but not all kids do. We want to ensure every child is given the opportunity to succeed in the classroom. It all starts with a healthy breakfast."

Last year, only 22 percent of students in Missouri participated in a school breakfast program.

The School Breakfast Challenge will occur during the 2012-2013 school year. All public, charter and private school districts who participate in the National School Lunch Program are automatically included in the challenge and will be categorized into one of four tiers based on district enrollment. Participation is voluntary. Districts will be eligible for cash prizes if they have a 20 percent increase in daily school breakfast participation per child enrolled from the 2011-2012 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. The top three school districts in each of the four tiers with the highest increase in breakfast participation will win a cash prize.

Cash prize levels include: four gold awards of $4,000; four silver awards of $2,500; and four bronze awards of $1,000. Award winners will be determined by the Department and cash prizes will be awarded by the Midwest Dairy Council and are recommended for use toward health and wellness activities to benefit the receiving school district.

“Many schools will try innovative programs like breakfast in the classroom or grab-n-go breakfast. Research shows that expanding service outside of the cafeteria gives students greater accessibility to a healthy breakfast and increases overall breakfast participation,” said Courtney Corbett of Midwest Dairy Council, the National Dairy Council affiliate in Missouri.

Additional resources and details about the challenge can be found on the Department's website at dese.mo.gov/divadm/food/breakfast-challenge.

Midwest Dairy Council®, an affiliate of National Dairy Council, is the nutrition education division of Midwest Dairy Association. The Council is dedicated to dairy nutrition research and education through the investment of more than 9,500 dairy farm families across 10 Midwestern states, and is committed to child health and wellness through our collaborative program, Fuel Up to Play 60. For more information, visit www.midwestdairy.com.