Breakfast has long been considered the first and most important meal of the day. It helps to rev your metabolism, gives you energy and helps you focus on school or work. But for many children in Bellevue, breakfast isn’t any meal of the day.
More than 3,600 students in the Bellevue School District are currently living in poverty and food insecure. This means they lack consistent access to a sufficient quantity or quality of food. These children may not have enough food at home to eat breakfast before they come to school.
It’s hard to focus when you’re hungry.
Some low-income students receive free and reduced-price breakfast when they arrive at school. However, only 50% of schools in the Bellevue School District currently have a breakfast program for their students. Students attending a school that doesn’t provide breakfast or who arrive at school too late to participate in breakfast have to wait until lunch to eat. These kids are often more focused on their grumbling stomachs than their teacher’s lesson.
“It’s hard to focus because you’re really tired,” said one high school student. “You try to stay focused, but then you think about being hungry.”
Grab-n-go snacks stop hunger in its tracks.
Bellevue LifeSpring is stepping in to fill this nutritional gap by working with community partners and volunteers to provide healthy, filling “grab-n-go” breakfast bags for hungry kids. These bags often contain easy-to-eat, kid-friendly items like instant oatmeal, granola bars, applesauce, single-serving cereal and shelf-stable milk – as well as a note of encouragement from the volunteer that assembled the bag.
“The body of research on the value of breakfast is huge,” said Melissa Slater, McKinney-Vento Advocacy Coordinator for the Bellevue School District. “We know that the academic output for students who have breakfast is much greater than students that don’t. We also know that students tend to have much better behavior if they have breakfast… It’s a win, not only for the child that had their needs met and got breakfast that day, but also for every other child that shares that classroom space because the day goes just a little more smoothly for every student in that room.”
The right start to the day.
Grab-n-go breakfast snacks help level the playing field so that every student starts the day off with proper nutrition. It also provides consistency, something that is rare for many children living in poverty.
“For students that may be coming from a shelter, the morning is just a little different than it is for another student,” Melissa shared. Thanks to Bellevue LifeSpring, “They can arrive at school, grab a breakfast bag, eat in the front office, head to class and really be ready to learn.”
Bellevue LifeSpring provides basic needs, like breakfast food, for students so they can focus on being a kid: growing, learning and succeeding. It’s the first step on the pathway out of poverty.