Wanda Cook-Robinson is superintendent of Oakland Schools intermediate school district.
We all want our students to succeed. Teachers, tutors, resource centers and even homework are all geared to helping students learn. One thing that often goes missing, however, is more basic than any piece of curriculum – breakfast.
Studies have repeatedly shown that a student who goes to school hungry is at an immediate disadvantage because it is difficult for him or her to concentrate and learn when their basic needs are not being met. Tight budgets for low-income families and busy morning schedules can mean that many students arrive at school hungry and not ready to learn.
Oakland County is Better with Breakfast is a groundbreaking public/non-profit collaboration between the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, Oakland Schools and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan with the goal of expanding free breakfast to students in eligible schools across Oakland County. Our model for addressing the underutilization of federal school breakfast funding is unique to both the state and the country.
The Better with Breakfast program was developed to improve academic outcomes by starting with something as simple, yet fundamental, as breakfast. And if you think this problem doesn’t exist in Oakland County, think again. Did you know only 43 percent of Oakland County students who receive a free or reduced lunch are also accessing breakfast? That means as many as 7,300 students in Oakland County alone struggle with hunger.
Oakland Schools is proud to partner with Oakland County leadership and United Way for Southeastern Michigan, to promote and support this important initiative.
School breakfast fights hunger, improves nutrition, and empowers children to learn.
Too many children in Michigan are missing out on school breakfast. Federal and state agencies, school districts, educators, and advocates must continue to build on the momentum school breakfast has gained in recent years to ensure that more low-income children start the school day with a healthy meal.
By providing students with easier access to breakfast, we are eliminating a huge barrier to student achievement.