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Governor Wolf: 200 Schools Receive First-ever School Breakfast Grants to Improve Learning

May 16, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – As part of his School Breakfast Initiative to help more children start their day with a healthy meal, Governor Tom Wolf today announced $900,000 from the inaugural round of grants to help 200 schools make breakfast available to all students and expand options for the children.

“A healthy breakfast helps students begin the school day ready to learn and succeed,” said Governor Wolf. “These school breakfast grants are an investment in the lives of thousands of children. When kids start the day with the nutrition they need, they grow up smarter, healthier, and stronger – and that means a smarter, healthier, stronger Pennsylvania.”

First Lady Frances Wolf will join Education Department Executive Deputy Secretary Dr. David Volkman and school advocates at Lawnton Elementary School in Harrisburg this morning to celebrate the announcement. Improving education from preschool through higher education has been a priority for the governor and First Lady since day one.

“Ask any teacher and they’ll tell you that food is a basic school supply, just like textbooks and pencils. When kids struggle with hunger, it’s harder for them to learn,” said First Lady Frances Wolf. “This important funding will go to the schools and the students who need it most to ensure they have a healthy, consistent start to their day.”

Governor Wolf proposed the School Breakfast Initiative as part of his 2017-18 state budget. Schools will use the grants to increase and sustain breakfast participation by 20 percent by implementing or expanding alternative breakfast options, such as grab-n-go breakfast, breakfast in the classroom, and second chance breakfast during study halls.

“These grants will help schools initiate a new breakfast program, or bolster an existing one using innovative delivery systems,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “Whether it is an elementary school that implements Breakfast in the Classroom for younger students, or a middle school that opts for grab-and-go, all students benefit from schoolwide breakfast programs.”

Today, one in five Pennsylvania children struggle with hunger. To address the problem, the Wolf administration in 2016 set a goal of ensuring that 60 percent of students who benefit from free and reduced priced school meals also participate in school breakfast by 2020.

Currently, over 3,000 Pennsylvania schools report that they offer breakfast, however fewer than half of those schools offer alternative serving methods. Only 50 percent of students who receive free or reduced lunch also receive breakfast.

“If it is our job as educators and anti-hunger advocates to do what’s best for children, that means ensuring students get a nutritious breakfast every morning,” said Bill Simonson, School Breakfast Outreach Coordinator for Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. “These grants will equip schools with the necessary funds to start alternative models and ensure more students get a healthy meal at school when they need it most. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is proud to partner with the Governor’s Office and Pennsylvania Department of Education on this initiative.”

A list of this year’s grant recipients is available here.

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