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Grant grows breakfast program

Prince Edward County High School (PECHS) recently received a $6,000 grant from No Kid Hungry Virginia that has helped develop the offerings of the school’s existing Grab and Go Breakfast program.

Bruce Davis

“What that grant does is it allows us to buy equipment to now service the students a little better,” Prince Edward County Public Schools Supervisor of Food Service Bruce Davis said.

Right now, the PECHS Grab and Go Breakfast offerings are just on a folding table in warm bags, he noted.

“(The grant) will allow us to buy carts that will keep the food a little warmer, and it will present it a little better than on a folding-up table,” he said.

The grant has also enabled PECHS to have a kiosk with breakfast food at the Prince Edward County Career & Technical Education Center across the street from the main high school building, Davis said. This is the first school year PECHS has offered Grab and Go Breakfast in the Career Tech building. It is more convenient for students whose homeroom is located in that building.

“And then (the grant) allows us also to buy a computer system that we can track the number of students that we serve, because right now we’re just writing it on a piece of paper,” Davis said. “We don’t have any real point-of-sale system that tracks it for us.”

The $6,000 grant was part of No Kid Hungry Virginia’s recent $32,000 grant investment across the state to support alternative school breakfast models known nationwide as Breakfast After The Bell programs.

The press release, from No Kid Hungry Virginia, noted that the Breakfast After The Bell program has a few different models, including the one PECHS utilizes — Grab and Go, in which PECHS students have the opportunity to pick up breakfast from the cafeteria or a mobile cart and eat during first period.

Davis said students grab their breakfast entrée, fruit, juice and milk, then head straight to their homeroom.

“New this year, all students at the high school receive free breakfast,” Davis said. “Since offering free breakfast to all students at Prince Edward County Public Schools, we have seen an increase in participation and the benefit of students arriving on time to start their day.”

Officials in the No Kid Hungry Virginia release said more than 1,000 Virginia schools have Breakfast After the Bell programs. The recent $32,000 grant investment was distributed across five different schools, including PECHS.

“We’re excited these secondary schools are beginning or expanding Breakfast After the Bell programs,” No Kid Hungry Virginia State Director Claire Mansfield said. “These breakfast programs are important for Virginia’s youth. We know expanding access to breakfast helps improve classroom performance, attendance and promotes healthy habits among students.”

One in seven children in Virginia live in families that struggle with hunger, the release stated. Research shows that hunger has long-term ramifications on children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates and a higher risk of hospitalizations and chronic diseases. No Kid Hungry Virginia and its partners focus on Breakfast After The Bell as a critical way to end childhood hunger in Virginia.