CHICAGO (PRNewswire-USNewswire) — Today marks the launch of a public affairs campaign that aims to make breakfast widely available in Illinois schools. In a series of advertisements, Rise and Shine Illinois urges teachers, parents and administrators to "request school breakfast." More than 449,000 children who receive free and reduced-price lunch in Illinois do not receive school breakfast, ranking Illinois 36th in the nation according to the Food Research and Action Center. Studies show that children's health and academics improve when they have breakfast at school.
"We believe school breakfast is a critical tool in addressing hunger," said Kate Maehr, Co-Chair of the IllinoisCommission to End Hunger and Executive Director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. "Making breakfast available gives children the nutrients and energy they need to thrive in an academic setting."
More than 1 in 5 children in Illinois is food insecure, meaning they're unsure of when or where they will receive their next meal. More than 70 percent of teachers say they teach students who regularly come to school hungry because there isn't enough food at home. While most schools serve breakfast, alternative models like Breakfast in the Classroom and Grab N Go make meals accessible to more children at the start of the day. Teachers and principals report seeing a noticeable increase in attendance and fewer discipline problems since incorporating breakfast programs. The Rise and Shine Illinois campaign encourages supporters to take action by visitingriseandshineillinois.org and filling out a form to start the breakfast outreach process at their school.
"Alternative breakfast models like `Breakfast in the Classroom' and `Grab `n' Go' are proven strategies that safely and efficiently make food accessible to schoolchildren," said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. "We encourage schools across the state to consider implementing these models as well as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which streamlines the meal application process for schools in low-income areas."
Resources are available to schools and districts seeking to serve more children breakfast. School meals are reimbursed by the federal government through the National School Breakfast Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign provides schools in Illinois with technical assistance and grants for equipment and technology needs. An annual school breakfast challenge recognizes Illinois schools that demonstrate the highest increases in daily breakfast participation. The goal of the campaign is to provide breakfast for 38,000 more students by the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
"No child should start the school day hungry," said Tim English, Regional Administrator, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Midwest Region. "We applaud the efforts of advocates across Illinois who are ensuring that children have the nutrition they need to excel in school."
Rise and Shine Illinois is a partnership of No Kid Hungry Illinois, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Illinois State Board of Education, Central Illinois Foodbank, EverThrive Illinois, the Illinois Coalition for Community Services, Illinois Hunger Coalition, Midwest Dairy Council and St. Louis Area Foodbank. Working with Downtown Partners, a Chicago-based advertising agency, the campaign was developed in response to a recommendation of the Illinois Commission to End Hunger, created by legislation in 2010 and appointed by the Governor. Downtown Partners developed the ad campaign's overall strategy, naming/branding, website and creative tactics to promote the initiative including television commercials, billboards, digital/social efforts as well as collateral pieces.