To help combat hunger in the classroom, Rachael Ray and her Yum-o! organization are teaming up with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign, a national movement to end childhood hunger in America. In addition to raising awareness about the issue, Yum-o! is donating $100,000 to support Share Our Strength’s work to increase participation in school breakfast programs.
Could you pass a pop quiz on an empty stomach?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly one in five children in America live in households that can’t consistently put enough food on the table, which means families are not always able to provide their kids with a healthy breakfast before school. Unfortunately, that means that kids are trying to learn on an empty stomach.
Funds provided by Rachael Ray and Yum-o! will be used to support Share Our Strength’s school breakfast initiatives in three markets: New Orleans (led by Share Our Strength), Los Angeles (in partnership with California Food Policy Advocates) and Texas (in partnership with the Texas Hunger Initiative). In addition, Rachael Ray and Yum-o! plan to participate in a series of national awareness initiatives throughout the year.
“We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s always a huge surprise to learn that so many of our nation’s children are starting their day off with little or nothing to eat,” said Ray. “When you see the benefits of school breakfast programs first-hand – like better test scores, fewer visits to the school nurse and kids being more alert in class – it becomes crystal clear that this is an issue we can’t afford not to fix.”
A recent Share Our Strength survey found that nearly 65 percent of public school K-8th grade teachers nationwide regularly witness children who come to school hungry, and the vast majority believe that breakfast plays a critical role in a student’s ability to concentrate and perform academically. By partnering together, Rachael Ray, Yum-o! and Share Our Strength are working to make sure children have access to the most important meal of the day when they get to school.
“We couldn’t have picked a better partner than Share Our Strength to continue our work while building off of the established platform they have created with their ‘No Kid Hungry’ campaign,” said Andrew Kaplan, Executive Director of the Yum-o! organization.
The existing School Breakfast Program – which is offered to students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch – offers kids a nutritious breakfast at school so that they can start their day off right. However, because these breakfasts are typically served in the cafeteria before the school day begins, barriers such as transportation issues, lack of awareness and the stigma associated with being singled out from classmates result in less than half of eligible children participating in the program. Funds donated to Share Our Strength by Rachael Ray and Yum-o! will be used to help close this gap between students who are eligible for School Breakfast and students who actually receive it by supporting alternative serving options.
“When a principal tells me that kids are being sent to his office because they’re too hungry to concentrate on school work, we need to step in and do something,” said Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength. “Alongside Rachael Ray, Yum-o! and our No Kid Hungry Campaign partners, we are working with school staff to serve breakfast in alternative ways that will increase participation and reduce the stigma kids feel, such as offering universal breakfast to all students, or breakfast in the classroom and Grab-and-Go style options.”
Learn more about the No Kid Hungry Campaign and take the pledge to help end childhood hunger in your own community at www.NoKidHungry.org.