Hungry Kids Can’t Learn- By Melissa Hemphill
There are many reasons why students may miss eating breakfast at home. School breakfast programs can help to ensure that students have another opportunity to eat before they start their school day.
Missing breakfast is not just a big city problem. Studies indicate that 3% of Revelstoke Grade 4 students are missing breakfast 5-7 times a week. The numbers increase with age; 44% of Grade 10 Revelstoke students miss breakfast more than 3 times a week.
Each of Revelstoke’s three elementary schools and the high school are working to improve and grow their breakfast programs in order to offer a nutritious breakfast every school day. Currently the Revelstoke Secondary School and Columbia Park Elementary School offer a nutritious breakfast each school day. Arrow Heights and Begbie View Elementary Schools are working on building out their programs to offer the same.
Programs begin at 8am, allowing every student a chance to eat before the first bell. The programs are open to all students and are free. The universality of the program is integral to avoiding a stigma around lower socioeconomic status. Students may miss eating breakfast due to issues of time, role-modeling, lack of appetite, needing more sleep, or unappealing breakfast foods. Money is just one barrier to breakfast.
School breakfast programs have been shown to improve attendance and reduce absenteeism which may lead to better learning. New relationships are born from attending these programs, where nutritious habits are reinforced while providing a variety of foods and even introducing students to new foods. When students eat breakfast, they perform better in the areas of readiness to learn, memory, and ability to stay focus on classroom activities. The benefits of the program can be felt throughout the entire student body.
But schools are not obliged to offer breakfast programs. In Revelstoke, it is the Parent Advisory Councils that spearhead the breakfast programs in each school; providing dedicated volunteers and fundraising. The School District recognizes the importance of these programs and is helping to support them through paid coordination. These coordinators recruit volunteers, shop for food, help to run the programs, and organize fundraising initiatives. There are also local businesses and community organizations that provide funding for the programs.
As today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, supporting Revelstoke children and youth through a breakfast program is a valuable contribution to your community. To donate money, food, equipment or to volunteer your time, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.