Gov. Roy Cooper releases federal funds to expand innovative breakfast programs

By: - October 24, 2023 1:15 pm
Gov. Roy Cooper shows a "thumbs up" to a young boy in a classroom

Gov. Roy Cooper (Left) announces initiative to expand school breakfast program at Glenn Elementary School in Durham on Oct. 24, 2023. Photo: Courtesy of the governor’s office.

Gov. Roy Cooper visited Durham on Tuesday to announce plans to release $1.4 million in federal funding to help school districts and charter schools expand breakfast programs.

Cooper made the announcement during a tour of Glenn Elementary School where he served students breakfast in their classroom.

“A child who is hungry can’t learn and many children can’t or won’t eat when they have to get up so early,” Cooper said. “Innovative efforts that get breakfast to children in the classroom are proven to encourage them to eat which will improve their educational success.”

School districts and charter schools are eligible for grants to implement “innovative school breakfast models” to help expand student participation in school breakfast programs. Cooper is partnering with the NC Alliance for Health and the Carolina Hunger Initiative.

The Alliance for Health and Carolina Hunger will administer a competitive grant program to provide districts and charter schools with up to $50,000 to create or expand innovative breakfast programs.

“From reducing chronic absenteeism to improving reading achievement, small changes to how school breakfast is served can make big impacts on student success,” said Lou Ann Crumpler, director of Carolina Hunger. “In recent years, more than 60 percent of NC’s public-school students were eligible for free and reduced-price school meals, showing the big difference these programs make on children in need.”

Research shows that eating a healthy school breakfast and lunch improves student attendance, discipline, and academic performance.

Cooper’s budget proposal included recurring funding to offset the co-pays for students eligible for reduced-price lunches in schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. The governor also proposed a pilot program to assist eligible schools in participating in the federal Community Eligibility Provision program. Both programs were funded in the final version of the state budget.

Funding for the new initiative comes from federal Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS) funds that have reverted to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund.

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Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.