Valley of the Sun United Way has provided 19 schools and more than 12,000 students the tools needed for Breakfast in the Classroom — and with the contributions it received at their most recent luncheon, it will be able to more than double that impact.
More than $100,000 in funds was raised at a Valley of the Sun United Way Women’s Leadership Council luncheon in April and will be used to provide 25 more schools – and almost 15,000 students — with Breakfast in the Classroom in the coming months.
United Way is on mission to bring this program to more schools impacting more than 74,000 students.
The funds were raised at a rousing luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore featuring Leigh Anne Tuohy, the legal guardian of Michael Oher, a former Ole Miss Rebels football player and Baltimore Ravens first-round draft selection who now plays offensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers.
Their story was depicted in Michael Lewis’ 2006 book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” and its 2009 film adaptation. Tuohy was played by actress Sandra Bullock in the film, for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress.
Valley of the Sun United Way was thrilled with the incredible response and generosity it saw at the event and the significant amount of funds raised for Breakfast in the Classroom.
Now, it’s seeking schools to partner with and benefit from this new influx of dollars for Breakfast in the Classroom programs.
One in five Arizonans live below the federal poverty line and record numbers of Valley residents continue to turn to local food banks for assistance. And that means a lot of kids go to school hungry.
Starting school days on empty stomachs can make students more easily distracted and fare worse in class than counterparts who eat breakfast. That conclusion is based on research — but it’s also just common sense. Any working adult can attest to the same fact – we all do better with food in our stomachs.
Kids who eat breakfast on a regular basis perform better academically, have increased attendance and make fewer trips to the school nurse’s office, research says.
In fact, students who eat breakfast each day, on average, score more than 17 percent higher on math tests and are 20 percent more likely to graduate than students who don’t eat breakfast at all. Here in Maricopa County, approximately 82,000 households struggle to put food on the table for themselves or their families, and 45% of them are households with children.
That’s why Valley of the Sun United Way is on a mission to provide alternative breakfast options like Breakfast in the Classroom to 130 schools and more than 74,000 children in need through Maricopa County. This is part of their effort to End Hunger in the Classroom by working with schools to provide food to children and reduce chronic household hunger.
Breakfast, as the old adage goes, is the most important meal of the day. Children who eat school breakfast are more likely to, according to research, reach higher levels of achievement in reading and math, concentrate better, be more alert, retain more of what they learn and participate in class.
Alternative breakfast programs like Breakfast in the Classroom also addresses a factor holding back participation in other before school breakfast programs.
Many students who are eligible for free or reduced-price school breakfast do not participate because of the stigma that only poor students go to the cafeteria for breakfast before school.
By offering breakfast to all students, some of the stigma of eating school breakfast is eliminated. Research shows that a Breakfast in the Classroom model is the single best way to increase participation and achieve the widespread gains in academic success linked to school breakfast consumption.
To learn more about the program or to make a donation, go to: vsuw.org/breakfast.