Oregon Schools Step Up to the Breakfast Challenge

by Marcella Miller

Coming to school on an empty stomach is no way to start a successful school day. For many kids that aren’t able to eat enough at home before school, it may be a daily struggle to stay focused in class until the lunch bell. During the month of November, eighty Oregon schools are demonstrating their commitment to child nutrition by participating in the third annual November School Breakfast Challenge.

The Challenge supports schools in engaging students and families in school nutrition, adding exciting options to breakfast menus and serving breakfast after the bell and free of charge for all students when feasible. Many schools registered for the Challenge are already implementing these strategies, and will be eligible to win one of four cash prizes if their participation has increased since last school year.

“Our district is committed to getting school breakfast to every child every day. We started offering breakfast in the classroom this year and we can already feel the difference it’s making at our school,” says Rikkilynn Larsen, Child Nutrition Director of Umatilla School District and a 2016 and 2017 Breakfast Challenge participant.

The Breakfast Gap in Oregon

Each school day, more than 275,000 kids eat school lunch in Oregon, but less than half of those kids make it to breakfast. Unlike school lunch, School Breakfast comes with its own set of challenges to reaching kids. Many students don’t arrive early enough before the bell to allow time to eat. Some kids and families may not really know that breakfast is offered, or are not familiar with the variety of foods offered. The Challenge is a way to encourage kids and families to participate in school breakfast if it works for them.

“Enjoying breakfast together as a class each day helps build a sense of community and allows for a positive beginning to each morning,” states Heidi Sipe, Superintendent of Umatilla School District.

Schools meals can save families hundreds of dollars a month, a big impact on tight food budgets. Let’s Do Breakfast, Oregon! hopes the Challenge will raise awareness for kids and families that breakfast is available for everyone.

Thank you to our partner schools and districts for doubling down for school breakfast, good luck!

About Let’s Do Breakfast, Oregon! and the November School Breakfast Challenge

Let’s Do Breakfast, Oregon! was created in 2015 by Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs to expand participation in the School Breakfast Program in Oregon. The Breakfast Challenge provides toolkits, resources, celebration of success stories, and the chance to win one of four cash prizes ranging from $500-$2,000 for the highest increase in participation. Learn more about the Challenge.

About the School Breakfast Program

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) is a USDA administered child nutrition program available to schools participating in National School Lunch Program (NSLP). In Oregon, the SBP is administered by Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs. Breakfasts served through SBP are required to meet strict federal nutrition guidelines and offer a nutritionally balanced meal including protein and whole grains. Oregon Law requires all schools with 25 percent or higher of students eligible for free or reduced price school meals that are participating in NSLP to offer SBP, and also waives the copay for families that fall into the reduced-price eligibility category, allowing all free and reduced eligible students to eat free of charge.

Download the PDF of participating schools in this year’s challenge.