Bound Brook Wins School Breakfast Challenge

By The Messenger-Gazette

Bound Brook captured the first place prize in the NJ Food for Thought School Breakfast Challenge for significantly increasing the number of students eating a healthy morning meal at school.

As the Northern/Central Jersey winning district, Bound Brook will receive a $5,000 grant from the American Dairy Association and Daily Council to sustain the breakfast in the classroom program. The dairy council will also provide a pep rally with former NFL player Amani Toomer at an event to be held at the Lafayette School in Bound Brook on Oct. 7.

Bound Brook’s student participation in the federal School Breakfast Program climbed from just 211 students in September 2013 to 1,402 in May 2014 – a 564 percent increase. According to data from the Departments of Education and Agriculture, Bound Brook is now feeding 82 percent of eligible, low-income children.

“This means that more children are getting the morning nutrition they need to concentrate and learn,” said Andrea Thompson, vice-president of School Marketing, American Dairy Association and Dairy Council. “Dairy farmers have a long-standing commitment to child nutrition and we would like to commend the entire Bound Brook school community for this successful effort to address childhood hunger, helping to remove a major barrier to learning.”

Bound Brook achieved this success by simply changing the way the district serves breakfast. Like many New Jersey districts, Bound Brook had served breakfast before school – when children have not yet arrived. Bound Brook switched to serving breakfast during the first few minutes of the school day in all its schools. Known as “breakfast after the bell,” this approach significantly boosts student participation in the federally-funded School Breakfast Program.

Not only is Bound Brook feeding more children, addressing childhood hunger and overcoming a major barrier to learning, they are also bringing back more federal dollars to feed New Jersey school children. The federal government reimburses states based on how many meals schools serve.

“We recognize that hungry students struggle to learn so it is incumbent on us, as a district, to ensure that all of our students begin their day with a healthy meal,” said Bound Brook Superintendent Dan Gallagher. “We have seen great results with breakfast after the bell. Our students are more focused and ready to learn. This has simply become an important part of our morning routine.”

The other North Jersey winners were East Newark and New Brunswick, coming in second and third, respectively. All challenge winners will be recognized at the Oct. 7 event when Advocates for Children of New Jersey will also release its 4th annual report on school breakfast in New Jersey.

The challenge was sponsored by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, the New Jersey Education Association, Advocates for Children of New Jersey and the NJ Food for Thought School Breakfast Campaign.

Led by Advocates for Children of New Jersey and the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, the NJ Food For Thought School Breakfast Campaign is driven by a statewide steering committee that includes the New Jersey Departments of Agriculture, Education and Health, anti-hunger and health groups and New Jersey’s major education associations. The campaign’s national partners are the Food Research and Action Center, the American Dairy Association and Council and the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association.

The statewide committee is working to build widespread support for school breakfast expansion, as well as assisting local efforts to expand participation.

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