Breakfast champion can be the new moniker for Ridgway School District. They excelled in the Colorado School Breakfast Challenge, an initiative supported by Gov. John Hickenlooper that challenged school districts to increase student participation in their breakfast programs during the 2011-12 school year. For their second-place finish with 60 more students eating school breakfast, the area’s district will be awarded $3,000 during a celebration at Ridgway Secondary School on the morning of Nov. 13.
All school districts were invited to participate in the 2011-12 Colorado School Breakfast Challenge with one primary goal—to increase student participation in the School Breakfast Program. The program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals with a healthy start to each school day; yet, according to the Colorado Department of Education, of the more than 217,000 low-income students in Colorado who ate a daily free or reduced-price lunch in 2010, only 87,000 participated in the School Breakfast Program.
School officials in the Ridgway School District rallied around the competition by implementing innovative serving models and engaging students in the area’s schools. For example, Ridgway Secondary School introduced “Breakfast After First,” providing sixth through 12th graders with a nutritious breakfast when they are awake and hungry.
“We try daily to bring the best and freshest food options possible to the breakfast program, and it’s a wonderful feeling when the students comment on how they loved the food,” said Lori Burgess, Food Service Manager for Ridgway School District. “We care about what we do and hopefully it’s reflected in our program.”
Ridgway ended the school year as a leading district in the challenge. Amongst school districts with under 40 percent free and reduced-price eligibility, Ridgway School District placed second by increasing participation from 11.7 percent to 39.18 percent among their schools with the School Breakfast Program.
The district will be recognized as a champion of the Colorado School Breakfast Challenge with an on-site celebration and check presentation for their $3,000 award. The event will take place at Ridgway Secondary School on Tuesday, Nov. 13, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
The annual Colorado School Breakfast Challenge is presented by the No Kid Hungry Colorado Campaign, a statewide, public-private initiative of Hunger Free Colorado, Share Our Strength and the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper. Together, the Campaign partners are working to ensure that all children have nutritious food at home, at school and in their communities.
Their comprehensive five-year plan details 10 goals to end child hunger by 2015. One is focused on the statewide expansion of the School Breakfast Program, with a goal to serve approximately 164,000 free and reduced-price school breakfasts on a daily average. For the 2010-11 school year, 108,509 average daily school breakfasts were served, a growth of 11.25 percent compared to the previous year.
“The No Kid Hungry Colorado’s hope is all children in Colorado will have access to a nutritious breakfast that will help them learn and succeed in school,” shared Gov. John Hickenlooper. “We congratulate Ridgway School District for being a breakfast champion and increasing participation through this challenge.”
Studies show that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, particularly for children. Those who do not eat a morning meal are more likely to struggle with poor academic performance, exhibit behavior problems and experience poor health. Eating breakfast actually can improve math, reading and standardized test scores. It also can decrease tardiness and suspensions as well as improve memory, attentiveness and overall health.
As part of the Campaign, Hunger Free Colorado works with schools and communities to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program by implementing innovative serving models that incorporate breakfast as part of the school’s morning routine. Instead of the traditional method of serving breakfast in the cafeteria before classes start, elementary to high schools can make it easier for students with Breakfast in the Classroom.
“The School Breakfast Program is proven to improve children’s nutrition, education, behavior and overall well-being, and it’s also one of the most effective ways to end child hunger in our state,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director of Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger organization. “Ridgway School District’s success in the Colorado School Breakfast Challenge shows we can provide more students with a nutritious start to the day and ensure fewer children go hungry at school.”
The complete list of the 2011-12 Colorado School Breakfast Challenge winners are as follows, with data provided by the Colorado Department of Education:
- For school districts with under 40 percent free and reduced-price eligibility:
- West Grand School District awarded gold and $5,000 for a 27.69 percentage point increase
- Ridgway School District awarded silver and $3,000 for a 27.4 percentage point increase
- For school districts with 40 percent or higher free and reduced-price eligibility:
- Burlington School District awarded gold and $5,000 for an 87.02 percentage point increase
- Wray School District awarded silver and $3,000 for a 51.59 percentage point increase
- For innovation in school breakfast programs:
- Northridge High School in Weld County School District 6 for their use of nutrition education materials and a breakfast satisfaction survey for students
- Bell Middle School in Jeffco Public Schools for revamping their cafeteria to mimic the look and feel of a coffee shop through a school-wide collaboration
- Stukey Elementary School in Adams 12 Five Star Schools for their Wake Up and Walk program where students and parents are encouraged to walk and eat breakfast together afterwards
For more information on the No Kid Hungry Colorado Campaign, visit co.nokidhungry.org. To learn more about Hunger Free Colorado, the issue of hunger in Colorado and how you can be a part of the solution, visit www.hungerfreecoloraro.org.