Pittsburgh, PA, March 2, 2020—
Allegheny County schools have exceeded Governor Wolf’s Blueprint 2020 goal for school breakfast participation.
According to data released in Breakfast Basics 2020 Update, published by Allies for Children and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, thirteen school districts and one charter school exceeded Governor Wolf’s Blueprint 2020 goal of having 60 percent of students eligible for free and reduced-price school meals eating both school breakfast and lunch. On average, schools throughout the county are serving 61 percent of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals both breakfast and lunch.
Progress is expected to continue, building upon the success initiated with the help of statewide breakfast mini-grants. Over the past two years, the Pennsylvania Department of Education awarded $1.5 million in mini-grants to schools throughout the state, including a total of $128,000 to 33 schools in Allegheny County. The purpose of the mini-grants is to incentivize schools’ implementation and expansion of alternative breakfast programs, with a goal of increasing breakfast utilization by 20 percent or more.
As stated in the report, this investment by Governor Wolf and the General Assembly unlocked the potential of many schools to increase breakfast participation, turning plans for implementing alternative breakfast models into a reality. Mini-grants have funded key equipment purchases and professional development to not only launch, but sustain alternative breakfast models. Most importantly, data indicates these investments will continue to pay off. Nearly 83% of grant recipients in the 2018-19 school year recorded increased school breakfast participation, and 54% reported an increase in healthy eating. Moreover, 36% reported decreased stigma, and 25% reported improved attendance. As further evidence of the impact of these interventions, the Food Research and Action Center recently released their annual School Breakfast Scorecard listing Pennsylvania as one of five states with the largest percentage of growth in the number of free and reduced-price breakfast participants, from school year 2017–2018 to school year 2018–2019.
“When Allies for Children entered the school breakfast arena in 2015, we examined best practices in school breakfast locally as well as across the commonwealth and nation. We advocated for state funding to support alternative breakfast models, and are thrilled that this investment has paid dividends. The support of Governor Wolf and the General Assembly have been instrumental in ensuring schools in Allegheny County are empowered to innovate and grow breakfast participation. The number of school districts meeting the Blueprint goal went from seven to 14 over the past four years. Additionally, the number of districts serving at least half of all students has increased from four to nine. Perhaps most importantly, the collaborative effort between policy makers, statewide and local organizations, and school leaders has provided a roadmap for future success, and can be applied to other areas of child nutrition. ” – Patrick Dowd, Executive Director of Allies for Children.
In the report, food service directors, principals, and superintendents talk about why and how they prioritized school breakfast.
“We know school breakfast is extremely important for students and can impact attention, achievement, and even attendance. It’s exciting for us to both see an investment in school breakfast at the state level and to see how schools are taking it upon themselves to make breakfast a priority for their students.” – Chris West, Child Nutrition Outreach Supervisor at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Allies for Children, a nonpartisan nonprofit, serves as a bold voice for policy and practice changes that improve the wellbeing of all children and youth in Allegheny County, especially those with the greatest need. For more information, visit www.alliesforchildren.org.
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is a nonprofit organization that distributes more than 35 million meals annually across 11 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania through a network of 365 agencies, partners and programs. The Food Bank was founded in 1980 and is a member of Feeding America, the leading domestic hunger-relief charity in the U.S. For more information on hunger in our region or how to get involved, visit pittsburghfoodbank.org.