Every day at 9 a.m., students wheel coolers of food into each classroom at Mary E. Baker School in Brockton.
For 8-year-old Jonalyce Hampton-Roderick, it’s a highlight of the day. She loves the food. What does she eat?
"A banana muffin, an apple, a cheese stick and apple juice," she said. "I feel like I have more energy to get through the rest of my day.”
The in-class meal is part of an initiative appropriately called Breakfast After the Bell. It was created to get students who are eligible for free lunch to also take advantage of free breakfast. At the Baker school, that includes more than 700 students.
Andrea Silbert with the Eos Foundation, an organization that works to address hunger and poverty issues, says having everyone eat together takes away the stigma that free breakfast is just for low income students. To make it happen, the Eos Foundation gives one-time $10,000 grants to school districts that participate in Breakfast After the Bell. Silbert says Brockton, New Bedford and Lowell got high marks for participation.
“This year we piloted a report card to compare districts and schools that have 60 percent or higher free and reduced [meal students], so these are schools with high poverty, and Brockton came in third in the state in terms of the percentage of children eating breakfast," Silbert said.