More than 6,300 students at 10 schools in Elgin Area School District U-46 participate in the Breakfast in the Classroom program that expanded morning meal offerings to kids for the first time this year.
Harriet Gifford Elementary School hosted a round-table discussion Thursday highlighting the benefits of the program. The Elgin school was one of 12 statewide to win the Illinois School Breakfast Challenge, recognizing Harriet Gifford as one of the fastest-growing breakfast programs and earning an extra $3,000 to run its program.
The traditional school breakfast was always in the school cafeteria, and while more than half of U-46 students qualified for free and reduced-price meals, only 18 percent ate breakfast at the school. That number has substantially increased this year in the 10 schools hosting the classroom-based meal program. Ellis Middle School and Channing, Garfield, Huff, Laurel Hill, McKinley, Parkwood, Sheridan and Washington elementary schools also serve breakfast in the classroom.
Claudie Phillips, U-46 director of food and nutrition, said starting the school day with full stomachs gives kids what they need to reach their full potential.
"It's so important that we do all we can to provide the tools that they need in order to perform," Phillips said. "Breakfast is one of those, too. Sometimes these are the only meals that they get."
The program is funded by the Walmart Foundation and organized by a coalition of local, state and national partners.