17 Main Road
Westport, MA 02790
For Immediate Release
Monday, Jan. 6, 2020
Contact: Benjamin Paulin
Email: [email protected]
Westport Community Schools Awarded Grant to Implement Breakfast After the Bell Program
WESTPORT – Superintendent Gary Reese is pleased to announce that Westport Community Schools was recently awarded a 2019-2020 Breakfast After the Bell Implementation Grant in the amount of $7,500 from the Project Bread organization.
The grant provides financial assistance to schools to help fund a Breakfast After the Bell program to give students a healthy morning meal. Children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to retain what they learn in class, behave better and experience better health outcomes. According to Project Bread, when kids consistently start their school day with a nutritious meal, they have significantly less absences, improved grades, are 50% less likely to repeat a grade and have a 20% better chance of graduating high school.
Westport Schools will use the funds to transition all three schools in the district – Macomber School, Westport Elementary School and the Westport Jr. Sr. High School – to the Breakfast After the Bell program. The schools will purchase one breakfast cart for each school as well as one Portable Heartland iPad for the district to help facilitate the program.
Westport’s current breakfast program provides students the opportunity to get breakfast after arriving at school with only 10 minutes to eat breakfast before class. According to School Business Administrator Michelle Rapoza, the current breakfast program only has about a 4-6% student participation rate. Given the short amount of time between arriving at school and going to class, students may prefer to go outside before school rather than get breakfast.
The new grab-and-go carts will allow students to pick up breakfast and take it to class. Allowing breakfast in the classroom will allow more time for students to eat breakfast, which the district hopes will increase student participation in school breakfast. Students will be offered food and beverages such as milk, juice, bagels, nutrition bars and fruit.
“We’re very thankful to Project Bread for awarding us this grant and I would like to thank Michelle Rapoza for her work in applying for the grant,” Superintendent Reese said. “These funds will allow us to purchase equipment to bring breakfast to our students and ensure that those students who are in need of a healthy morning meal have access to one.”
School districts must have at least 30% of their students qualify for free or reduced-price meals to be eligible for the grant. Westport has 1,421 students in the district with 39% of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals.
The districts expects to begin the Breakfast Before the Bell program at the end of March.
About Project Bread
Project Bread is a statewide organization committed to preventing and ending hunger in Massachusetts. For over twenty years, Project Bread has worked with Massachusetts school districts to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program through the Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP), in partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Project Bread’s CNOP team provides technical assistance and innovative solutions to support schools that are implementing and expanding breakfast programs in an effort to ensure that all children in Massachusetts start the school day nourished and ready to learn.