This year's Colorado School Breakfast Challenge, also referred to as the "Breakfast Games," opened in September and runs through January, with one primary goal-to increase student participation in the School Breakfast Program.
Schools are competing in three categories, and the top two schools with the highest overall participation rate in each category will be crowned champion in March 2013.
The winners will be awarded prize money-$4,000 for "gold" and $2,000 for "silver."
The 2012-13 School Breakfast Challenge participating high schools are:
- Colorado Springs / Pueblo
- Mitchell High School and Wasson High School of Colorado Springs School District 11
- Centennial High School, Central High School, East High School and South High School of Pueblo City 60 School District
- Pueblo County High School of Pueblo County School District 70
- Denver / Front Range
- Adams City High School of Adams School District 14
- Westminster High School of Adams School District 50
- Gateway High School of Adams-Arapahoe 28J School District
- Overland High School of Cherry Creek School District
- Abraham Lincoln High School
- East High School
- George Washington High School
- Martin Luther King Jr. Early College
- Montbello High School
- South High School of Denver Public Schools
- Jefferson High School
- Wheat Ridge High School
- Skyline High School of St. Vrain Valley School District RE 1J
- Greeley Central High School
- Greeley West High School
- Northridge High School of Weld County School District 6
- Grand Junction
- Central High School of Mesa County Valley School District 51
Creative ideas are fueling each school's participation, including student-run promotions and activities such as "breakfast clubs" and displays to showcase the importance of breakfast. School officials are rallying around the competition as well by implementing innovative serving models like Breakfast in the Classroom.
One school administrator even promised to shave his head if their school wins.
The annual Colorado School Breakfast Challenge is presented by the No Kid Hungry Colorado Campaign, a statewide, public-private initiative of Hunger Free Colorado, Share Our Strength and the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper.
The Campaign's comprehensive five-year plan details 10 goals to end child hunger by 2015, with one focused on the statewide expansion of the School Breakfast Program. For the 2010-11 school year, 108,509 daily school breakfasts were served, a growth of 11.25 percent compared to the previous year.
Studies show that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, particularly for children. Those who do not eat a regular, nutritious morning meal may be more likely to struggle with poor academic performance, exhibit behavior problems and experience poor health. It also can help decrease tardiness and suspensions as well as improve memory, attentiveness and overall health.
The School Breakfast Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers students a healthy start to each school day; yet, according to the Colorado Department of Education, of the more than 217,000 low-income students in Colorado who ate a daily free or reduced-price lunch in 2010, only 87,000 participated in the School Breakfast Program.
"One in five children in Colorado is at risk of hunger and a recent Share Our Strength survey showed that three in five teachers say children regularly come to school hungry," said Summer Gathercole, Director of Share Our Strength Colorado. "Models like Breakfast in the Classroom make school breakfast more accessible and ensure our students are prepared to learn each day. The results show that simple changes to a school's breakfast program can create long-lasting change."
As part of the Campaign, Hunger Free Colorado works with schools and communities to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program by assisting with the implementation of innovative serving models that incorporate breakfast as part of the school's morning routine. Instead of the traditional method of serving breakfast in the cafeteria before classes start, elementary to high schools can make it easier for students with serving models like Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go and Breakfast After First Period.
For more information on the No Kid Hungry Colorado Campaign, visit NoKidHungry.org/Colorado. To learn more about Hunger Free Colorado, the issue of hunger in Colorado and how you can be a part of the solution, visit www.HungerFreeColorado.org.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)