KCPS launches program to address student food insecurity

Johanna Pounds
Editorial Assistant
Northeast News

This year, Kansas City Public Schools will be implementing a Breakfast in the Classroom program to help create food security for children attending the schools.

KCPS held a press conference Friday, March 8 at James Elementary School to showcase the the launch of the program.

Twenty-five Kansas City Public schools will be introducing this program to their classrooms with the help of Operation Food Search (OFS), a non-profit organization based out of St. Louis dedicated to ending hunger for students in the Missouri/Illinois area.

General Mills and The Walmart Foundation have funded this $477,742 grant in this district through OFS. This program is anticipated to continue for the next three years, according to one OFS representatives, and any equipment that is needed now until the end, Walmart and General Mills will provide.

Missouri State Representative Richard Brown (D) of the 27th district, one of the individuals who introduced OFS to KCPS said during his time as a teacher he learned the struggles of students who were not able to eat in the mornings.

“I was a public school teacher for 24 years in Kansas City Public Schools, and I saw first hand what child hunger does to our schools,” said Brown.

About 1 in 5 children in Missouri (18.6%) live in households that struggle with hunger.

Only about half of the low-income children who are able to get free or reduced-price breakfast through the Federal School Breakfast Program are actually taking advantage of these benefits.

According to Operation Food Search, Breakfast in the Classroom takes the traditional school breakfast approach and improves it by moving it to the classroom. Breakfast is available to every child, no matter the family’s income level, making it possible for all children to participate.

Principal of James Elementary, Mary Bachkora, talked about the benefits of this program and how it has directly affected the school. James Elementary used to have an upward of 15 nurse referrals a morning due to students complaining of upset stomaches. The nurse would give them food and they would be on their way.

“We now have less than 3 students a day with hunger-related referrals,” Bachkora added, “which keeps them in the classroom and focused on learning.”

Bachkora noted that they have reduced their tardies to less than five a day, which means children are coming to school more often, and on time, thanks to Breakfast in the Classroom.

Representative Brown went around the third grade classrooms this morning, asking students “Do you like your morning breakfast? Is there any breakfast you get that you don’t like eating?”

After sitting and thinking about it for a while, one of the little girls replied saying, “I like it. I like eating all of them.”

To learn more about Operation Food Search and help fund breakfast at local schools, visit their website at operationfoodsearch.org or call 314-726-5355.

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