Last Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Chicago Public Schools may change the structure of the mandatory Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) initiative enacted in January. The Greater Chicago Food Depository has long advocated for expansion of Breakfast in the Classroom. The research is undeniable: Breakfast in the Classroom results in more children receiving more breakfasts. For the 82 Chicago schools that implemented the program in March, breakfast participation increased from 26 percent to 62 percent. In a school district where more than 75 percent of students are low-income, the program has meant more food for hungry children.
At many schools, the program has been lauded by administrators and parents. On a recent visit to Shoesmith School in Kenwood, the Food Depository witnessed a cheerful staff preparing healthy breakfasts for delighted students. We watched as children sat at their desks and dug in to a morning meal of an omelet, banana, bran muffin and juice. These nourishing building blocks are critical for a school where 90 percent of students are low income; research shows that proper nutrition and academic performance are inextricably linked. Students participating in BIC better concentrate on classwork once those early-morning hunger pangs are quelled.
For the Food Depository, whose mission includes “striving to end hunger in our community,” BIC is a key step in helping to nourish the next generation and build a better future. Children represent 37 percent of the people we serve, or 250,000 children under the age of 18. We must ensure that they have the nutrition they need to succeed. The Food Depository remains strongly supportive of Breakfast in the Classroom.