Springfield: Overcoming “Adult Issues” To Achieve Student Success
“If this seems commonsense, that is because it was.”
Over the past three years, Springfield Public Schools (SPS) has rolled out breakfast programming in over fifty schools, providing a healthy meal to start the school day for nearly 17,000 students.
Patrick Roach, Springfield Public Schools’ Chief Financial and Operations Officer, spoke simply about the benefits of breakfast after the bell in his testimony to the Joint Committee on Education.
“This is an efficient, effective and cost-neutral program that can be implemented successfully by working with school staff and making changes as needed,” Roach advised. “In Springfield, almost all of the issues and concerns that arose were ‘adult issues,’ and by listening to the adults, but making sure that we prioritize the children, we have set our students up for success.”
Roach continued “in every school we’ve implemented, we’ve seen our academic performance increase, we’ve seen tardiness go down, we’ve seen attendance go up, we’ve seen behavior issues improve and nurse visits go down.”
A recently released report confirms how successful this program has been.
Since breakfast after the bell was implemented two years ago, student visits to school nurses for “abdominal concern-hunger,” also known as “tummy aches,” declined 22.96%. This means students spend more time in the classroom learning, socializing, and thriving.
The benefits of breakfast go beyond the classroom. As a federally reimbursed program, school breakfast has the potential to bring in $30 million statewide, relieving financial burdens on schools while investing in our students and our economy. Springfield’s school food program revenue has grown steadily from $15.4 million in 2014 to $22.1 million in 2017, an increase of 43.5 percent.
“With the increase in [breakfast] participation there has been a significant increase in revenue. With this additional revenue, we have been able to improve meal quality and choices,” said Timothy Gray, SPS’s Food Service Administrator. “[Breakfast in the classroom] has also created over 60 full-time positions with benefits. In a community like Springfield, these jobs make a meaningful difference.”