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VEA Supports Expanding School Breakfast Option

“You can’t do your best work when you’re hungry.”

That remark from VEA President Meg Gruber underscored the importance of the work facing participants at Virginia’s first School Breakfast Summit, held Thursday in Richmond.

Statistics shared at the summit confirmed the impressions of many teachers and support professionals—too many students don’t get a nutritious breakfast, and that adversely affects their health and their schoolwork. Fewer than one-half of students eligible for reduced-price breakfasts through the federal school breakfast program are eating them.

“Eating breakfast in school helps children learn,” said Jim Bender, executive director of the NEA Health Information Network. “Your mother was right—you need to eat a healthy breakfast.”

Participants at the summit learned about the Breakfast in the Classroom model, aimed at high-poverty school districts, in which breakfasts are served to all students in the classroom just after the morning bell. The classroom-based model has been show to increase participation, and to boost students’ health, attendance, and achievement along the way.

Dorothy McAuliffe, First Lady of Virginia, lauded the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, which includes the NEA HIN, the Food Research and Action Center, the School Nutrition Foundation, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. With funding from Walmart Foundation, the Breakfast in the Classroom is spreading to seven new states, including Virginia. VEA is partnering to boost participation in the Commonwealth.

“We know that the food [students] eat in school may be the only nutritious meals they eat that day,” McAuliffe said. “Collaborations like yours are what it takes to solve challenges of this magnitude.”

Representatives of several VEA Associations attended the Summit and learned about how they can participate in grants to launch a Breakfast in the Classroom program in their local schools. Applications for the grants are due July 31. (For more information, contact Antoinette Rogers at VEA, 800-554-9554 or

Event Photos. For photos of the Summit events, go to our Flickr site.


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