New Initiative Challenges School Breakfast Participation

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools kitchen crews reacted Thursday to the Missouri School Breakfast Challenge. The challenge allows districts to cash in on students eating breakfast at school.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education partnered with the Midwest Dairy Council to create the initiative, which awards the school districts with the largest increase in school breakfast participation from the past school year.

NeaAnn Flood, head of the kitchen at Mill Creek Elementary School, said she's excited about the challenge and hopes to see the number of students eating breakfast continue to increase in Mill Creek's cafeteria.

According to the MDESE, all school districts, public, private and charter, are automatically part of the program. It will divide them into four different categories based on enrollment.

MDESE said eating a healthy breakfast improves students' behavior, attendance and academic success in the classroom.

To be eligible for the money, districts must witness at least a 20 percent increase in this year's number of students participating in school breakfast.

The Midwest Dairy Council will award the prizes at three levels to a total of 12 districts, varying from $1,000 to $4,000.