Breakfast before the Bell: Local students start the day with important meal

DES MOINES - Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and now the Highline School District is making sure each child is starting off on the right foot.

It’s the first year of the program called Breakfast before the Bell and it appears to be working. Here’s how it works, kids come into the classroom every day and before they do anything else, they grab breakfast.

Every morning, there’s an entrée, fruit and milk just waiting for them. Thanks to a grant and federal money, any student at Midway Elementary School can get breakfast in the morning.

“This ensures that students are having a calm eating environment and building community,” says principal Rebekah Kim.

In the past, kids came to the cafeteria to get breakfast but school officials found that plan was not working well. Ninenty percent of the kids at the school qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch but only about a third took advantage of it.

Since moving breakfast into the classroom, nearly 90 percent are starting off the day with a meal.

“There was a stigma associated with it, students who arrived early for breakfast were from families who qualify for free lunch. Now, there’s no stigma, no labeling, it’s just part of the day,” says Sarah Martin, the nutrition services manager for the district.

This program is in 3 elementary schools in the district but the goal is to expand this to other schools in the future.