Anoka-Hennepin schools awarded money for breakfast

Eight Anoka-Hennepin schools will receive money from the School Breakfast Initiative next year.

From more than 380 applicants, Franklin, Lincoln and Wilson elementary schools in Anoka; Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School in Brooklyn Center; and Adams, Hamilton and Mississippi elementary schools in Coon Rapids, as well as Coon Rapids Middle School, were selected to participate with 112 other schools across the state in the 2014-2015 School Breakfast Challenge.

The School Breakfast Initiative, a partnership between Hunger-Free Minnesota and Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, will provide each of the 120 schools with $2,500 dollars, plus a 25-cent incentive for each additional breakfast served to low-income students over the previous year.

The Cargill Foundation, General Mills Foundation and the Midwest Dairy Council provide funding for the School Breakfast Initiative.

All eight grant recipients in Anoka-Hennepin have high populations of students who qualify for free or reduced meals – 50 percent on average.

The grant money will fund the expansion and promotion of breakfast for all students, according to Allison Bradford, director of child nutrition for Anoka-Hennepin.

“Without breakfast, your mind isn’t really fueled for the day for the best learning,” Bradford said. Starting the day off with a meal cuts down on visits to the nurse, keeps children alert and attentive in class and boosts mood levels, she added.

Implementing breakfast in the classroom and grab-and-go models are possible uses for the funds in some schools; others already have similar efforts in place and will likely branch out from those ideas, according to Bradford.

Viewing the $2,500 as “start-up funds,” Bradford is excited about what schools might dream up.

Three schools in the district applied for the grant, but did not receive it: University Avenue Elementary School in Blaine, Monroe Elementary School in Brooklyn Park and Morris Bye Elementary School in Coon Rapids. Bradford isn’t sure why these schools weren’t selected.

“Even without the funding, we’ll just take some of the things that we learn and just start doing (them) at other schools,” she said.

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]