Harwich Port, MA - Yesterday, at its annual morning Healthy Start Awards Ceremony at the Massachusetts State House, the Harwich Port-based Eos Foundation awarded $100,000 to 160 schools across Massachusetts for “Gold Star” school breakfast programs for low-income kids. Gold Star programs are those which consistently reach over 80% school breakfast participation using an after the bell (ATB) delivery model.
This year, Springfield ranked #1 among districts, serving breakfast to 82% of their students, while New Bedford who earned the top spot last year, came in second at 81%. In the Charter School category, the Seven Hills Charter Public School jumped from 4th place last year to first this year serving 93% of kids, and Holyoke Community Charter School came in second with 91% participation.
According to the just released Eos Foundation School Breakfast Report Card, while 25% of the 625 high need schools in Massachusetts earn a “Gold Star” rating, nearly one-half or 47% of schools (293 of 625) are marked “Need Urgent Attention,” the rating for schools that feed less than 50% of their students. The stakes are high with nearly 159,000 low-income children across Massachusetts missing out on a nutritious breakfast each day and the state forfeiting over $32 million in USDA reimbursements each year due to low breakfast participation. “With Eos and others committed to help provide start-up funds to transition to ATB breakfast, and with no cost to the state, there is no reason all high poverty schools across Massachusetts can’t adopt the program and become Healthy Start Award schools too,” said Andrea Silbert, President of the Eos Foundation.
While the number of Gold Star schools grew significantly from 2014 to 2017, progress has stalled. “The 160 schools we recognize today represent only 25% of high poverty schools in our state - what about the other 75%? We are particularly concerned that only four charter schools state-wide are reaching 80%+ of their students with breakfast daily, and 74% of charters serve less than 50% of students breakfast, falling in the Needs Urgent Attention category,” said Silbert. “This is an evidence-based program that increases academic achievement and improves health outcomes; ATB breakfast decreases the achievement gap, absences and tardies, and also brings money from the Federal government into the districts at a time when budgets are constrained.”
The annual Healthy Start Awards provide a $500 grant to Massachusetts schools that hit 80% participation. The Healthy Start Leadership Award of $20,000 this year went to 10 individual schools from smaller districts and they each received an additional $2,000. Those schools are:
About the Eos Foundation
The Eos Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in children’s futures. In addition to the annual Healthy Start Awards Ceremony, Eos publishes an annual Massachusetts School Breakfast Report Card, and is committed to fund all PreK-12 high poverty schools who implement proven ATB breakfast delivery models. Applications are reviewed on a rolling-basis through an RFP process and available online at EosFoundation.org.