Photo: Courtesy of the Eos Foundation
Photo: Courtesy of the Eos Foundation

School leaders in Massachusetts have won Healthy Start Awards from the Eos Foundation for contributing “to the educational success of the whole child by addressing their nutritional needs,” according to the foundation’s website. The third annual Healthy Start Awards ceremony was held last week at the State House.

Located in Harwich Port, Mass., the Eos Foundation “is a private philanthropic foundation committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in children’s futures.”

The Healthy Start Awards “recognize individual school communities in Massachusetts that have reached 80% or higher school breakfast participation rates. The dedicated efforts of these schools’ administrators, teachers, custodians, food service staff, school secretaries and nurses help provide children in Massachusetts’ high-need schools access to the nutritious breakfast they need to learn each day.”

“A total of 92 schools from 19 districts across the state received this year’s recognition and a $500 unrestricted grant award.” A list of these schools is posted here.

“The 2016 Healthy Start Leadership Award recognized Springfield Public Schools with a $10,000 grant for their commitment to expand universal free, after the bell, BIC programming across all 60 district schools serving grades PreK-12.” [BIC is the acronym for: breakfast served after the bell and in the classroom.]

These efforts help children from low income families by providing a nutritional meal. And breakfast programs bring federal funding into Massachusetts.

Eos Foundation President Andrea Silbert. Photo: Courtesy of the Eos Foundation
Eos Foundation President Andrea Silbert. Photo: Courtesy of the Eos Foundation

According to Eos, “Collectively, Massachusetts schools are leaving over $25 million in federal USDA funds on the table due to low school breakfast participation. BIC is proven to draw down those funds by reaching 80%+ participation rates, ensuring that students receive the essential nutrients to fill their bellies and fuel their minds for morning learning time.”

Among the benefits: “Districts such as Brockton and Springfield are rolling out the program district-wide, and benefiting from lower absentee and tardy rates, fewer morning nurses visits and behavioral problems, higher achievement, and millions of dollars in increased federal reimbursements for their school food and nutrition budgets.”

The program is also popular with administrators. According to a 2015 report from the Food Research & Action Center, “Surveyed principals were so pleased with their breakfast after the bell programs that 87 percent believed other principals should explore launching a similar program. The program also was praised for its efficacy, with 82 percent of principals noting increases in school breakfast participation. Principals frequently shared that the program was embraced by a broad range of stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and students.”

So congratulations to this year’s Healthy Start Awards winners. Their efforts are helping children across the state achieve academic success.