Safeway Fundraises For Maui Food Bank, Low Breakfast Participation of Hawai‘i
Local Safeway stores are dedicating the month of September to the Nourishing Neighbors fundraiser, where donations made at the register of any Safeway store on Maui will support the Maui Food Bank.
The fundraiser serves across the state to expand school breakfast participation, building on the grab-and-go model that has been a necessity due to the pandemic.
Despite free grab-and-go breakfast, which allowed parents to pick up breakfast and lunch at the same time, meal participation has been down since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to the Food Research and Action Center’s 2021 School Breakfast Scorecard, only 25,559 low-income children in Hawai‘i participated in the national School Breakfast Program on an average school day during the 2019-2020 school year.
In Hawai‘i, that’s about 40% of children receiving free or reduced-price lunches, compared to a national rate of 58.4%. This places Hawai‘i at 50th in the nation for participation in this program.
If the entire state were to raise school breakfast participation rate to 70% (of those participating in lunch), almost 19,000 more students would benefit from school breakfast, and the state would get nearly $4 million per year in additional federal funds.
In West Virginia (the top-ranked state) more than 84% of students who participate in free and discounted lunch also participate in breakfast.
“Parents often don’t realize that breakfast is available through their child’s school,” said Daniela Spoto, Hawai‘i Appleseed Director of Anti-Hunger Initiatives. “Even families that are financially stable often have such busy schedules that they find it challenging to prepare a good, balanced breakfast in the morning. And data shows us that students who skip breakfast have a harder time learning.”
Unlike most years, this year national waivers have made it possible for all Hawai‘i public schools (and many charter schools) to serve free meals — meeting USDA high-quality nutrition standards — to all students.
“We are very pleased with how the DOE has stepped up to provide free meals to so many students during campus closures,” said Spoto. “With 100% free meals this year, we’re hopeful that we can continue to work with the DOE to re-imagine how breakfast is served at school, making it easier and more convenient for as many students as possible.”
FRAC, No Kid Hungry and other national groups recommend boosting participation by offering “breakfast after the bell.” This umbrella term includes multiple innovative breakfast delivery models such as:
- Offering breakfast in the classroom while students are going over the day’s agenda;
- A “second-chance breakfast” after the first period; and
- Grab-and-go breakfast kiosks in a convenient location.
Another strategy to boost participation is offering new menu items that feature local ingredients, or dishes that students have requested, and promoting these items through various channels to both parents and students.
The Nourishing Neighbors campaign is sponsored by the Safeway Foundation with the support of the Food Research and Action Center and will run the entire month of September at more than 20 Safeway stores in Hawai‘i.