Washington, DC – The national anti-hunger campaign No Kid Hungry has announced five winners of its 2019 Breakfast Hero contest. This year’s inspiring line up of champions includes educators and administrators from school districts across the country who have been nominated by members of their local community for going above and beyond to ensure their students are Powered By Breakfast.
The following individuals and teams were named 2019 No Kid Hungry Breakfast Heroes:
Jon Konen, Principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Great Falls, Montana
Lincoln Elementary School was one of the first in state to receive a breakfast grant from No Kid Hungry Montana in 2014, and since implementing breakfast after the bell has consistently served breakfast to the kids who need it. Jon’s leadership style set a strong foundation for the longstanding success of breakfast after the bell at Lincoln Elementary School, according to Linda Cleatus, a program manager with No Kid Hungry Montana. “Jon knew that no matter what innovative teaching techniques were being used, students couldn’t learn optimally if they were hungry,” said Cleatus. “His program serves as a model for his peers not only in Great Falls, but across the state.” 1 in every 6 kids in Montana face hunger; more than half of students in the Great Falls School District are eligible for free and reduced price meals.
Nancy LaFave, Food Service Director for Escanaba and Bark River-Harris School Districts in Escanaba/Harris Michigan
This past fall, Nancy convinced the administration of both her school districts to adopt the Community Eligibility Provision, and is now offering breakfast in the classroom free to every student K-6 in Bark River-Harris and K-8 in Escanaba. “Nancy has handled it like a charm,” said Diane Golzynski with the Michigan Department of Education. “She’s gotten administrative and public support and listened to the concerns of parents, never once losing sight of wanting to take care of the kids.” 1 in every 6 kids in Michigan face hunger; nearly half of all students in both Escanaba and Bark River-Harris school districts are eligible for free and reduced price meals.
Barbara O’Connor, Nutrition Manager for Morrow Middle School in Morrow, Georgia
Ms. O’Connor has gone above and beyond to reach as many students as possible with a health breakfast each morning, according to Courtney Goershel with HealthMPowers. Already this year, she has increased breakfast participation by offering students a Grab and Go option. “Ms. O’Connor involves the students in her nutrition program,” said Goershel. “She offers taste tests, provides incentives when they make a healthy choice, and uses CHOA’s Smart Serving Strategies to ensure her cafeteria is a welcoming environment.” 1 in every 5 kids in Georgia face hunger; 93% of students at Morrow Middle School are eligible for free and reduced price meals.
Dr. Monte Stewart, Principal of Hughbanks Elementary School in Rialto, California
Principal Stewart was an early adopter of the Breakfast in the Classroom program in the Rialto Unified School District. “He’s passionate about the program and sees how important breakfast is for his kids to succeed,” said Daisy Munguia, a senior program manager for No Kid Hungry California. “Everything he does goes back to supporting his number one stakeholder: his students.” 1 in every 5 kids in California face hunger; 84% of students at Hughbanks Elementary School are eligible for free and reduced price meals.
Wichita Public Schools in Wichita, Kansas [Food Service Director David Paul; Secondary School Supervisor Jeff Falkner; Cafeteria Manger Travis Folds, East High School; Leesa Morgan, South High School; Kay Scott, West High School; Amy Steward, North High School]
This school year, Wichita Public Schools have started innovative breakfast delivery models at 10 schools across the district, resulting in 1,100 additional students eating breakfast each day. The leadership of the Food Service Director David Paul has been instrumental to ensuring more kids are starting their day with breakfast, according to the Kansas State Department of Education (KDSE). But David is quick to credit his team, particularly the beyond the scenes work of Secondary School Supervisor Jeff Falkner, who was charged with the successful implementation of the program. Jeff in turn points to the hard work of the cafeteria managers at the district’s four high schools who have increased breakfast participation across the board by offering “second chance” breakfast from carts located conveniently throughout the schools. “David and his team are using the momentum and success from the first semester to reach out to other schools within the district,” said Jill Ladd with KSDE. “They want to ensure more students start their day with a healthy breakfast so they’re fueled and ready to learn!” 1 in every 5 kids in Kansas face hunger; 76% of students in Wichita Public Schools are eligible for free or reduced price meals.
School breakfast is an energy source for kids across the nation. Research shows that hunger has long-term ramifications on children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates, and a higher risk of hospitalizations and chronic diseases. No Kid Hungry and its partners focus on school breakfast as a critical way to end childhood hunger.
Accessing traditional cafeteria breakfast service can be challenging for many kids. Breakfast after the bell provides breakfast in a way that is more convenient and accessible to students, resulting in more kids starting the day ready to learn.
“Hungry kids can’t learn, and kids who can’t learn can’t reach their full potential,” said Lisa Davis, senior vice president of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign. “Thanks to everyday heroes like the amazing folks we’re recognizing today, many more kids across the country are getting the breakfast fuel they need every day.”
In addition to the five national winners, No Kid Hungry announced today their 2019 School Breakfast Hall of Fame.