Governor Steve Bullock, First Lady Lisa Bullock, and Montana No Kid Hungry today announced that a total of $70,125 in private grant funding has been awarded to 18 schools across Montana to implement Breakfast After the Bell in the classroom.
“Feeding kids breakfast not only has the most potential to help students learn, attendance goes up and there are fewer disciplinary problems and fewer visits to the school nurse,” said Governor Bullock. “As governor and as a father, I’m pleased to see even more schools across our state recognize the incredible benefits of making breakfast part of the school day.”
“Ensuring that kids are fed and start the school day nourished is one of the most basic and necessary investments we can make for our children and our state’s future,” First Lady Bullock said. “As a result of the many schools, organizations and individuals who have taken the initiative to address this important issue, we are getting closer to making no kid hungry a reality in our state.”
The 18 schools that received breakfast grants this cycle include:
- Riverside Middle School, Billings, $5000
- East Middle School, Butte, $5130
- Sunnyside School, Great Falls, $4432
- Helena High School, Helena, $4000
- Four Georgians Elementary School, Helena, $4700
- Jefferson Elementary School, Helena, $3,500
- Lockwood Middle School, Lockwood, $1300
- Poplar Middle School, Poplar, $4865
- Fred Moodry Middle School, Anaconda, $5000
- Ridge View Elementary School, Belgrade, $3767
- Chief Joseph Middle School, Bozeman, $4857
- Sacajawea Middle School, Bozeman, $4857
- Evergreen Jr. High School, Evergreen, $1735
- Lewis and Clark Elementary School, Great Falls, $4522
- Laurel Middle School, Laurel, $4800
- Lolo Middle School, Lolo, $2700
- Stevensville K-6 School, Stevensville, $2960
- Superior Elementary, Superior, $2000
All 18 schools were awarded with grant funding to implement Breakfast After the Bell, an alternative service model that allows kids to eat school breakfast during or between morning lessons rather than in the cafeteria before classes begin. After adopting Breakfast After the Bell, schools see student participation in the breakfast program increase by double or more.
Since 2014, Governor and First Lady Bullock have teamed up with Montana No Kid Hungry and private grant funders to provide a total of $416,798 to 110 schools in Montana to implement Breakfast After the Bell. Educators have found the program to be a successful intervention to address food insecurity and prevent trauma associated with chronic hunger, as well as promoting a culture of inclusivity that helps students feel connected and sets a positive tone for the school day.
Grants are offered by Montana No Kid Hungry, which is housed under the Department of Public Health and Human Services. Funding for breakfast grants is made possible through support from private donors, including Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, BNSF Railway, Walmart, Inc., Round It Up Montana (a partnership between the MT Restaurant and Retail Associations, Prostart, and No Kid Hungry), Albertson’s Companies Foundation, Cigna Foundation, and the Steele-Reese Foundation.
Riverside Middle School in Billings used their grant funds to purchase service carts and rolled out their new Breakfast After the Bell program in October. The school saw positive results right away, with an additional 123 students eating school breakfast in October 2018 compared to the previous year.
Billings Senior High has been operating Breakfast After the Bell for four years, after receiving a grant from Montana No Kid Hungry in 2015, and showcases how the program can help high school students succeed in school by providing wholesome food that’s easily accessible. “Having Breakfast After the Bell makes their day easier,” says Principal Jeff Uhren. “Serving breakfast in the classroom gives our teachers and students a chance to chat with one another, check in, and really foster a positive classroom culture. Connection over food is powerful, and I think it’s a practice that does have a place in school.”
Breakfast After the Bell has been proven to improve kids’ intake of nutritious foods as well as curb poor behaviors that disrupt class time. Josh Beeman is a Wrestling Coach and Special Education teacher at Billings Senior High, with 49 kids on his wrestling team this year. When athletes ask for advice on their diet, Beeman advises them to eat school breakfast. “It has everything they need,” he said. “If kids didn’t have the option of Breakfast After the Bell, they would be picking something up from the gas station or eating nothing at all.” Health Teacher and Boys Basketball Coach Drew Haws sees the program benefitting his students as well and says, “When kids have breakfast they feel better. They are in a better mood and are more respectful.”
Schools can apply for funding online through the Montana No Kid Hungry grant portal, with opportunities available during the spring and fall. Anyone interested in starting a new breakfast program, transitioning their existing program to an alternative service model, or for questions about upcoming grant opportunities, contact Linda Cleatus at LCleatus@mt.gov or by phone at 406-444-3925.