Juneau Announces Grant Award to Improve Access to School Meals


Monday, March 5, 2012
By Allyson Hagen
444-3160

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, March 5, 2012

Contact: Allyson Hagen, ahagen2@mt.gov, 406-444-3160

 

Juneau Announces Grant Award to Improve Access to School Meals

Joins Jefferson Elementary Students for Breakfast during National School Breakfast Week

Helena, MT – March 5 through 9 is National School Breakfast Week. As schools across the state focus on the importance of a healthy breakfast to ensure success in the classroom, Superintendent Denise Juneau announced the Office of Public Instruction has received a grant of $959,537 from the USDA to simplify the application procedure for free breakfast and lunch for low-income families in Montana through a state-level matching system.

School children from families approved to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formally Food Stamps) or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits will be automatically approved to receive free breakfast and lunch, improving access to school meals for eligible children and reducing paperwork for Montana schools.

Said Superintendent Juneau, "Healthy meals play a critical role in student achievement and behavior. A hungry child has difficulty learning." She continued, "Improving access to school meals for eligible children and decreasing paperwork for schools is a win-win situation."

In Montana, 63% of school age SNAP participants were certified for free school meals in the 2010-2011 school year. The OPI's goal is to have 95% of eligible children certified for free school meals by 2014 due to this streamlined process.

Research demonstrates that under-nutrition can affect a child's behavior, school performance and overall cognitive development.  Even when a child misses one meal, behavior and academic performance can be affected.  One in ten people in Montana live in households where there is not always enough food, including 85,000 children.

Juneau continued, "This is another step we can take to ensure that no child in Montana goes hungry and that students have access to nutritious food which helps keep them focused and ready to learn.”

 

Superintendent Juneau will be celebrating National School Breakfast Week with Helena students at Jefferson Elementary School at 8 am, Monday March 5. The Helena School District is providing universal free breakfast to all students March 5 – 9 in honor of National School Breakfast Week. Media is invited to attend.

 

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