School breakfast: building a solid foundation for learning

All through September, 2018, when you visit your local Safeway location in Hawaiʻi, you’ll see signs advertising the annual Hunger Is fundraiser, sponsored by the Albertsons Companies Foundation. When you checkout with your cashier, you’ll have the option to donate to this important fundraiser aimed at expanding participation in school breakfast programs and combating childhood hunger. The foundation has once again selected Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, a leader in the fight to end hunger in Hawaiʻi, as its recipient nonprofit to receive these generous donations from residents like you.

Hawaiʻi currently ranks 49th in the nation for low-income student participation in school breakfast programs. A hungry child can’t learn. Sadly, many of Hawaiʻi’s families can’t afford to provide their children with a healthy breakfast every morning. Even families that are financially stable often have such busy schedules that they find it challenging to sit down with their children for a good breakfast in the morning, even though students who skip breakfast have a harder time learning.

“Research shows that a good breakfast helps students concentrate and can improve their academic performance. A solid breakfast is a foundation for student learning,” said First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige. Mrs. Amago-Ige has been a champion fighting childhood hunger since her days as an educator and Vice Principal.

Last year, Hawai‘i Appleseed partnered on school breakfast with Kamaile Academy, which adopted a grab-and-go ‘Wiki’ Breakfast After the Bell program. The school went from 3,000 breakfasts served in four months to 10,730 over the following four-month period. Kamaile Academy’s success shows the potential for other schools to feed more children by implementing alternative models for school breakfast.

“Wiki Breakfast continues to be a success at Kamaile Academy,” said Kamaile Academy Interim Principal Paul Kepka. “There is no going back to breakfast before school for our secondary haumāna [students]. Wiki Breakfast has become part of our positive school culture and daily routine of learning.”

“The success of Kamaile Academy in increasing school breakfast participation shows the potential for other schools to feed more children by implementing alternative models for school breakfast,” said Hawai‘i Appleseed Co-Director Gavin Thornton.

Currently, only 42 percent of Hawai‘i’s low-income students who eat free or reduced-price school lunch also eat school breakfast. If our entire state were to raise our school breakfast participation rate to 70 percent, almost 17,000 more of our keiki would benefit from school breakfast, and our state would get nearly $7 million per year in additional federal funds.

“This gift will have a tremendous impact on our program,” said Gavin Thornton, Co-Executive Director of Hawai‘i Appleseed. “We’d like to thank Safeway and the Albertsons Foundation for selecting us as their charity partner and supporting our efforts to fight hunger.”

Hunger Is, a charitable program of the Albertsons Foundation, is designed to build awareness and raise funds in an effort to eradicate childhood hunger in America. Funds raised through the Hunger Is program focus on adding breakfasts in and out of school through federal nutrition programs and other means focused on combating childhood hunger and improving other health-related outcomes.

Hawai‘i Appleseed is working to build a more socially just Hawai‘i, where everyone has genuine opportunities to achieve economic security and fulfill their potential. We change systems that perpetuate inequality and injustice through policy development, coalition building, and advocacy.

Please stop by the your local Safeway and make a donation to the Hunger Is campaign from September 1–30, 2018. Our keiki will thank you.