Governor Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock today announced $26,586 in private grant funding for six Montana schools to expand school breakfast programs through an ongoing partnership with Montana No Kid Hungry.
“My wife and I are committed to ending childhood hunger in Montana,” said Governor Bullock. “Through private partnerships, these grants have helped serve over 650,000 more breakfast meals during this school year than the year before. The progress we’re seeing today is translating into a stronger, healthier, and more stable Montana for years to come.”
Grant funding is offered in continuation of the Governor and First Lady’s Breakfast after the Bell initiative, which provides food service programs with resources they need to increase students’ participation in school breakfast, giving children better access to quality nutrition so that they can approach their schoolwork without the distraction of an empty stomach. Since the fall of 2014, Governor and First Lady Bullock have awarded over $260,000 to more than 70 Montana schools.
“It’s heartbreaking to imagine a child going even a day without a proper meal, but the reality is thousands of kids in Montana aren’t getting enough of the food they need to prepare for a brighter future,” First Lady Bullock said. “We owe it to our communities to ensure that every child who shows up for school has an opportunity to start their day well-fed and ready to learn.”
The six schools that received breakfast grants during this cycle include:
Kennedy Elementary, Butte, $5,000.00
West Elementary, Butte, $5,000.00
Rossiter Elementary, Helena, $5,000.00
Meadowlark Elementary, Chinook, $4,967.00
Blue Creek Elementary, Billings, $4,652.00
Reed Point Elementary, Reed Point, $1,967.00
Participation in traditional, cafeteria-style models that serve breakfast before classes begin averages a little over 30%, whereas alternative Breakfast after the Bell models typically average more than 70%. With every additional breakfast a school serves, more federal reimbursement revenue is brought into the school district, and those funds can be reinvested in the school’s food service program, allowing them to improve menus, purchase more locally-sourced ingredients, offer training to staff, and hire additional employees.
Grants are offered by Montana No Kid Hungry, which is housed under the Prevention Resource Center in the Department of Public Health and Human Services. Funding for breakfast grants is made possible through support from private donors, including Share our Strength, the Albertsons Companies Foundation, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, and Round It Up Montana.
Schools can apply for funding online through Montana No Kid Hungry’s grant portal, with opportunities available twice per year during the spring and fall. Grant funds can assist with covering the cost of new equipment and technology so that food service programs are able to implement alternative breakfast models or start new breakfast programs to expand their meal services. In addition to administering grants, Montana No Kid Hungry also consults with school districts to identify the most effective breakfast service model.
Montana No Kid Hungry AmeriCorps members are currently serving in Browning, Billings, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Troy. Members have assisted the school districts where they serve with implementing the Harvest of the Month program, expanding summer meal service sites, writing grants, conducting assessments, engaging youth in nutrition education activities, and building local partnerships to help combat food insecurity, to name a just few of their projects.
“We are thankful to our AmeriCorps program, and to our members serving in school districts around the state,” said Lisa Lee, Director of Montana No Kid Hungry. “They serve our communities day in and day out to provide the necessary support for school districts to be successful with their breakfast programs and to reach even more kids who rely on healthy meals to do well in school.”
More than 145 schools in Montana have decided to build breakfast into their school day. Through their ongoing partnership with Montana No Kid Hungry, the Bullocks will offer another grant cycle in October of 2017.
For schools interested in starting a new breakfast program or transitioning their existing program to an alternative service model, or for questions about upcoming grant opportunities, contact Linda Cleatus at LCleatus@mt.gov or by phone at 444-3925.