Pittsburgh, PA, March 4, 2019—
Allegheny County schools are on track to achieve Governor Wolf’s Blueprint 2020 goal for school breakfast participation.
According to data released in Breakfast Basics 2019 Update, published by Allies for Children and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, alternative models implemented at local schools are successfully feeding more kids.
In the 2017-18 school year, with support from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, Allies for Children and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank worked with five Allegheny County school districts to implement alternative breakfast models. Since implementation, even with enrollment changes, each of the five districts saw a greater percent change in breakfast participation than 60 percent of the 46 school districts and charter schools reviewed in Breakfast Basics 2019 Update. As a result of alternative breakfast models, the districts are providing breakfast to an additional 575 students daily compared to the 2016-17 school year. Additionally, since implementing an alternative model in 2017-18, all five districts have increased the percent of students who are eligible for free and reduced price school meals eating school breakfast compared to those eating school lunch. Four of the five districts are represented in Allegheny County’s top ten school districts in terms of the increase in the number of students participating in school breakfast between October 2016 and October 2018.
For the first time, the Pennsylvania Department of Education awarded nearly $900,000 in mini-grants to schools throughout the state, including 22 schools in Allegheny County. The purpose of the mini-grants is for schools to implement or expand the use of an alternative breakfast program. With the goal of increasing breakfast participation by 20 percent or more, participation increases are expected to materialize over the next year.
“By the end of the 2018-19 school year, the schools receiving mini-grants from the state should have implemented alternative breakfast models. We are excited to see what the October 2019 numbers show for breakfast participation. We anticipate the 2019-2020 school year could be the year Allegheny County schools meet Governor Wolf’s goal of 60 percent of free and reduced eligible students eating both breakfast and lunch” – Patrick Dowd, Executive Director of Allies for Children.
In Allegheny County, for every 100 free and reduced eligible students eating school lunch, 57 are also eating school breakfast. The statewide average is 53 free and reduced eligible students eating school breakfast for every 100 eating lunch. Since 2013, the number of school districts meeting Governor Wolf’s goal increased by 50 percent.
According to Breakfast Basics 2019 Update, twelve school districts in Allegheny County are meeting the Governor’s goal of having 60 percent of students eating both school breakfast and lunch. While this is positive, some districts continue to struggle with breakfast participation. Alternative breakfast models provide an additional way for students to get the nourishment they need to start the day.
“We know alternative breakfast models and other innovative breakfast practices help increase participation, and we also know that what works for each school is different.” – Chris West, Child Nutrition Outreach Coordinator at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank