No Kid Hungry North Carolina, under leadership of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and in partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI) and the Southeast Dairy Industry, is inviting K-12 public schools throughout the state to participate in their second annual statewide school Breakfast Challenge.
The challenge is a pledge by school districts to do all they can to feed breakfast to more kids in their schools. By signing up for the challenge, schools pledge to take part in the No Kid Hungry mission to increase participation in breakfast. Challenge winners, the schools which display the largest percent increase, will be eligible for prizes.
In 2011, Share Our Strength teamed up with North Carolina leaders to launch No Kid Hungry North Carolina, a public-private initiative working to end childhood hunger through a variety of strategies in North Carolina.
According to the national No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices, North Carolina has one of the nation’s highest percentages of children who are food insecure; more than one-fourth of North Carolina children are at risk for hunger. No Kid Hungry strives to eliminate this largely invisible epidemic by addressing three main goals: improve access to public and private nutrition programs that provide food to needy families and their children; strengthen community infrastructure and systems for getting healthy food to children and families; and improve families’ knowledge about available programs, as well as healthy and affordable food choices that will stretch the family food budget.
Last year, 920 North Carolina public schools participated in the Breakfast Challenge, more than one-third of the K-12 schools across the state. The top 50 schools had breakfast participation increases ranging from 30 to 60 percent. All top 50 schools adopted innovative alternative breakfast programs such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab n’ Go, or Second Chance Breakfast – models of service proven to help significantly increase breakfast participation.
Lou Anne Crumpler, State Director for No Kid Hungry NC, said, “We are very pleased with how many schools are committing to serve school breakfast to more kids. Such growth would not be possible without the great cooperation and support from NC DPI. USDA’s 2013 year-end report showed that North Carolina increased the number of children who received breakfast statewide by more than 10,000 children last year, and we’re hoping for a much larger increase this year.”
This year, the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is offering schools an opportunity to dramatically increase the number of children receiving breakfast at no charge. The CEP allows schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer nutritious school meals at no cost to all students through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The CEP uses information from other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families (TANF) instead of traditional paper applications. No Kid Hungry NC recommends that the 600 schools implementing CEP also enroll in the 2014 Breakfast Challenge to explore innovative, alternative ways to make breakfast more accessible to students, thereby increasing the number of children receiving these meals.
No Kid Hungry North Carolina is an initiative based at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. No Kid Hungry NC is reaching out to school districts across the state through personal phone calls, bi-weekly email newsletters, involvement at school nutrition leaders’ events, along with information on their website: NC.NoKidHungry.org.
Momentum for this year’s Challenge continues to build, and the number of schools committing to the Challenge already exceeds the numbers from 2013. The team reports that as of September 10, more than HALF of the 2,500 K-12 NC public schools have enrolled in the 2014 fall Breakfast Challenge, and more than HALF of the School DISTRICTS have enrolled ALL of their schools in the Challenge—quite a milestone!
The Challenge is designed so that ANYONE can enter their school, with approval from their principal. Enrollment for the Breakfast Challenge is open through September 30 at NC.NoKidHungry.org.