Breakfast Bites: A Step Towards Ending The Free Breakfast Stigma For Low-Income Students

Danielle Lee Breakfast Bites, FCE, Fed 40, National Breakfast Program

Want to change a child’s future? Give them breakfast.

Study after study has proven that children who eat breakfast perform better in school. Knowing this, most schools offer free breakfast for low-income students. But these breakfast programs have historically low participation rates. The reasons?

“It can be embarrassing to feel singled out, and kids are especially sensitive to that pressure,” notes Dave Green, CEO of Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE).

It’s also hard for any parent to get their child to school early when school breakfast is served. For low-income students who participate in their school’s breakfast program, access to breakfast can be quite difficult due to limited transportation and parent availability.

The solution? Made with real apple, puffed brown rice, Scottish oats and nutmeg, FCE’s delicious new Breakfast Bites: Apple Pie Oats are packaged by volunteers at Hunger Projects and distributed discreetly through backpack programs at schools and food pantries. The nutritious breakfast meal, which can be served hot or cold, is also utilized through FCE’s Fed 40 program, a free app and website where recipients can order meals directly to their front door.

“That way, students in need of food assistance can get to eat a healthy and delicious breakfast at home. They don’t have to wake up an hour earlier, walk to school or face that stigma because the meal is sitting right on their shelf,” Green explains.

Unlike bulky cereal boxes that draw attention to students who rely on food pantries, FCE’s Breakfast Bites are packed in compact bags that students can slip into their backpacks without drawing attention to themselves.

Retired educator and Hunger Hero Dr. Cheryl Johnson has seen firsthand the impact that breakfast has on a student’s education.

“It’s hard to give a student instructions when they haven’t eaten anything,” she says. “Breakfast gives them the energy and the fuel for a productive day.”

She adds that in many cases, students do not utilize the breakfast programs because they can’t get there on time or “don’t want the other kids to think they’re poor.”

Johnson previously worked at a food pantry with Lockhart Middle School which included healthy meals from FCE.

“I call FCE’s meals ‘expansion food’ because they can serve a number of people at once. The way the meals are packed and the nutrition they provide, it is truly amazing,” Johnson says.

A child who goes to school hungry has little chance of achieving his or her dreams. Breakfast Bites can give children who are in high-poverty situations the same hope for a brighter future that other children have.

Dave Green concludes: “We want to remove the fear and give hope to children who are trying so hard to succeed but don’t get enough to eat at home. Because it’s difficult to have hope when you don’t even have breakfast.”

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