New program provides breakfast for elementary students

It has long been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and officials with the Russellville City School System are making sure that breakfast is something their younger students won’t miss out on.

Thanks to a new program being implemented at Russellville’s elementary schools, students from kindergarten all the way up to fifth grade will enjoy school breakfast in their classrooms each morning free of charge.

According to Elaine Vaughn, RCS child nutrition director, the Universal Breakfast program kicked off on April 7 and has been a success so far.

“We’ve had many positive comments from administration and teachers,” Vaughn said. “We went around and took pictures the first day and I was amazed at how quiet it was and how well the students were sitting and eating their breakfast. They really seem to be enjoying it.”

Vaughn said the breakfast program is funded through the USDA, but the Universal Breakfast program they are now implementing at West Elementary and Russellville Elementary was being provided free of charge thanks to grant money secured by the school system.

“We have received $1,000 in grant money from Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. and we have a summited a Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) School Breakfast Expansion Grant, which is funded by Newman’s Own Foundation for $8,000 per school,” she said.

“These grants will provide us with the startup cost for the bags and carts that help transfer the food. General Mills Foodservice also provided some of the hot and cold bags at no charge to help us deliver the food.”

Vaughn said the program has been a cooperative effort between each school administrator and staff member because they all know the benefits that can come from having students who have had a proper breakfast each morning.

“Many children do not eat a nutritious breakfast every morning and offering breakfast to all elementary students at no charge will help families in our area,” Vaughn said.

“Regardless of income, families today live busy lives, with long work hours that often make it difficult to sit down long enough in the morning to eat a nutritious breakfast.

“Studies have concluded that students who eat school breakfast at the start of the school day show a general increase in math and reading scores as well as improvements in their speed and memory in cognitive tests.

“Children who eat breakfast at school, closer to class and test-taking time, perform better on standardized tests than those who skip breakfast. The students have an opportunity to eat more fruit and drink more milk.

“Schools that offer breakfast free to all students in the classroom report decreases in discipline and behavior problems, visits to school nurses and tardiness; increases in student attentiveness and attendance; and generally improved learning environments.

“We think this is going to be a great program for all of our elementary students and staff.”

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