Mid-Missouri school provides free breakfast for students in need

As Eldon School District prepares to welcome students back to school, they are launching a new program to provide free breakfast in the classrooms for students K-8. (Photo: Hannah Knowles/ KRCG 13)

As parents prepare to send their kids back to school, school districts in mid-Missouri are offering a helping hand by providing free or reduced breakfast to students.

With different school districts comes differences in struggles they see with students and meals, but Eldon School District said their biggest issue is the number of students who come to class every morning without breakfast.

As Eldon School District prepares to welcome students back to school, they are launching a new program to provide free breakfast in the classrooms for students K-8. Matt Davis, the Eldon School Superintendent said the move to a free breakfast program in the classroom will impact over 1,300 students.

"Studies do show that there are kids who come to school hungry. We see that everyday in our classrooms in Eldon. Even offering a breakfast program we still have hungry kids," Shawndra Taylor, Food Service Director for Eldon School District, said.

Research proves that students who eat a healthy, well balanced breakfast see improvements in physical and mental health. Fueling up in the morning not only improves health in children and teenagers, but it provides a boost in student's learning.

"We are hoping that teachers will see a decline in issues with kids being hungry which causes them to be sleepy or act out... We don't ever want to see a kid not able to study because they are hungry," Taylor said.

Besides breakfast for K-8 students, Eldon schools also provide free breakfast at the high school and a regular free and reduced lunch. Students in LEAP, the after school learning program, are also provided with food services. Taylor believes that eating a healthy breakfast is the most important thing a student can do to be the best they can be in school.

"Oh, I hope... those test scores will go up, students will come focus on school work and not worry about being hungry," she said.

According to a new study by the Food Research and Action Center, 16.8 percent of Missouri households with children reported they struggled to buy enough food for themselves and their families. Data shows that Missouri is ranked 27th in the nation in food hardships.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, these are a few reasons why breakfast is so important for students:

  • Students who eat breakfast at school perform better on standardized tests than those who skip breakfast.
  • Students who eat breakfast the morning of a standardized test have significantly higher scores in spelling, reading and math compared to those who do not eat breakfast.
  • Students who participate in school provided breakfast show improved attendance, behavior, and academic performances. Research shows that those same students also saw a decrease in tardiness.
  • Students who skip breakfast are less able to differentiate among visual images, show increased errors and have slower memory recall.
  • Students experiencing hunger are more likely to be hyperactive, absent, and tardy, in addition to having behavioral issues in school.

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