The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) – the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America – presented the award for Innovative Anti-Hunger Work during a benefit dinner held in Washington, D.C.
The award recognizes Dallas ISD and its Food and Child Nutrition Services division for its exemplary and innovative work to reach more children in need through widespread implementation of Breakfast in the Classroom. Breakfast in the Classroom offers children the opportunity to eat school breakfast when school starts rather than in the cafeteria 20-40 minutes before school. The program eliminates various barriers including commuting, bus schedules, stigma, and others to hungry students getting breakfast, and is proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase participation in school breakfast.
Research shows a range of benefits from offering Breakfast in the Classroom. In addition to fighting hunger, benefits include improved academic performance, less disruptive student behavior, fewer visits to the school nurse, and increased attendance.
Dora Rivas, the executive director of food and nutrition services for Dallas ISD accepted the award.
“Ensuring our students are healthy and start each day ready to learn is a top priority,” said Rivas. “We have seen a high level of positive academic and health outcomes – especially among low-income students – in our schools that have implemented Breakfast in the Classroom.”
Since implementing a Breakfast in the Classroom pilot in the fall of 2010, participation of Dallas students eating breakfast at school has jumped by more than 200 percent. Dallas was one of the first five school districts selected by the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom to participate in the program, a consortium of national non-profits (including FRAC), which is funded by the Walmart Foundation. The success of the pilot prompted an additional 50 campuses to implement the program in 2012, and in November of 2012 the Board of Trustees established a policy for district wide Breakfast in the Classroom.
The rapid, system wide adoption in Dallas ISD is what caused FRAC to honor the district with the innovation award.
“Through implementing Breakfast in the Classroom, Dallas Independent School District has shown its commitment to ending child hunger,” said Jim Weill, president of FRAC. “Dallas is a leader in ensuring that all students have the opportunity to start the day with a good breakfast. We are proud to call Dallas ISD a partner in the work to end hunger and to award them for their dedication and innovation.”