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Midwest Dairy Council® and the Illinois No Kid Hungry® Campaign Announce the 2012-2013 Illinois School Breakfast Challenge

May 14, 2012

Public-Private Partnership Challenges All Illinois Schools to Increase School Breakfast Participation

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) May 12, 2012

Midwest Dairy Council® and the Illinois No Kid Hungry® Campaign, in partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education, announce the 2012-2013 Illinois School Breakfast Challenge. The public-private partnership challenges all Illinois schools to make breakfast a top priority! Awards in four tiers with each tier awarding three prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $1,000, will be given to schools with the largest percentage increases in average daily participation rates for August-December 2012, compared to January-May 2012. Schools without a breakfast program will be judged based on the statewide average participation rate. Winning schools will be announced in spring of 2013.

Illinois schools offer the School Breakfast Program – just like the National School Lunch Program – funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offering students a chance to start the day with a healthy meal. However, less than 40 percent of the students who qualify for a free or reduced price lunch program participate in school breakfast. In fact, Illinois ranks 44th in the nation for program participation, losing more than $38 million in unclaimed federal dollars. This puts kids at a greater disadvantage, because research indicates that hungry kids have more trouble focusing in class and complain of headaches, stomachaches and other ailments more frequently. Barriers, including stigma and transportation logistics, are some of the reasons cited for low participation.

"Children should never start the school day hungry. The School Breakfast Program offers those who would otherwise miss out on breakfast a nutritious meal to start the day. The key is to make sure that all eligible kids are participating in the program,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “That’s why we’re working with Midwest Dairy Council and the Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign, to sponsor the 2012-2013 Illinois School Breakfast Challenge.”

When Share Our Strength, a national anti-child hunger organization, polled (http://www.strength.org/teachers) America’s middle-school teachers in 2011, two-thirds said they taught children who regularly came to school too hungry to learn. Studies show that children who eat breakfast tend to perform better on standardized tests, make fewer mistakes in math, and show a general increase in math and reading scores. They also generally have fewer discipline problems and visit school nurses' offices less often.

“Midwest Dairy Council is proud to partner with the Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign and the Illinois State Board of Education, to sponsor the 2012-2013 Illinois Breakfast Challenge,” said Robin Levy, RD, LDN, Health and Wellness Program Manager for Midwest Dairy Council. “All Illinois schools are automatically entered to participate, and we’re hopeful that many will implement new school breakfast service models that are proven to break down hurdles that keep students from getting a nutritious breakfast,” she continued. “Programs like Breakfast in the Classroom or Grab n’ Go meals allow students to eat breakfast at their desks, making it part of their instructional time, and reducing stigma.”

“As the Commission to End Hunger reported, over 23 percent of Illinois children at some point in their life will face not knowing where or when their next meal might come from. The Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign, a recommendation of the Commission, is working to connect those children with proven food and nutritional programs, such as the School Breakfast Program. The Campaign is working with schools to supply grants, resources and technical assistance to help schools switch from traditional school breakfast programs to these new models that make it easier for students to start the day with a healthy meal,” said Dawn Melchiorre, Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign Manager.

The 2012-2013 Illinois Breakfast Challenge is a statewide partnership of the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois No Kid Hungry and Midwest Dairy Council. The Campaign brings together state agencies, local non-profits and corporate partners to end childhood hunger in Illinois.

The Illinois No Kid Hungry campaign is generously supported by lead sponsors Walmart and Jimmy Dean, sponsored by the Arby’s Foundation and the Irving Harris Foundation and supported by Weight Watchers®. The Illinois No Kid Hungry campaign is part of Share Our Strength’s national No Kid Hungry campaign with efforts supported by Share Our Strength’s national core partners ConAgra Foods Foundation, Walmart and the Food Network.

Go to http://www.NoKidHungry.org/Illinois to learn more about the Campaign. Visit http://www.midwestdairy.com to learn more about Midwest Dairy Council.

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Midwest Dairy Council®, an affiliate of National Dairy Council, is the nutrition education division of Midwest Dairy Association. The Council is dedicated to dairy nutrition research and education through the investment of more than 9,500 dairy farm families across 10 Midwestern states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma), and is committed to child health and wellness through our collaborative program, Fuel Up to Play 60. For more information, visit http://www.midwestdairy.com. Follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

About Share Our Strength
Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid Hungry® campaign – a national effort to end childhood hunger in America – Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in effective federal nutrition programs; invests in community organizations fighting hunger; teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals; and builds public-private partnerships to end childhood hunger, at the state and city level. Working closely with the culinary industry and relying on the strength of its volunteers, Share Our Strength hosts innovative culinary fundraising events and develops pioneering cause-marketing campaign that support No Kid Hungry. Visit Strength.org to get involved.