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Governor announces N.C. public schools will receive $1.3 million in grants for school breakfasts 

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More than 51,000 students in 42 public school districts and charter schools will get expanded access to innovative school breakfast options thanks to $1.3 million in grants, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Feb. 27.

The initiative is part of his “Year of Public Schools.” 

“Our public schools not only provide safe places for children to learn, but also healthy meals for students who sometimes face food insecurity at home,” Cooper said in a press release. “These grants will help more public schools provide breakfast for children in the classroom so they can start their day ready to learn and be successful.”

These grants will aid 258 public schools that offer innovative breakfast models to bolster student engagement with school breakfasts.

“We know that hungry kids can’t learn,” Morgan Wittman Gramann, executive director of the N.C. Alliance for Health, said in a press release. “These grants enable schools to find creative ways to make sure that every child has the nutrition that they need to focus on learning.”

About one in six children in North Carolina deal with food insecurity, according to a report by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Nearly 60% of public school students in North Carolina qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school as of the 2019-2020 school year (the most recent data available), according to the Kids Count Data Center.

Innovative school breakfasts provide early morning nutrition to students through models like breakfast in the classroom, second chance breakfast, and grab-and-go breakfast.

“School meals are an instructional intervention,” Lou Anne Crumpler, director of the Carolina Hunger Initiative, said in a press release. “From reducing chronic absenteeism to improving reading achievement, small changes in how school breakfast is served can make big impacts on student success. We appreciate Governor Cooper’s commitment to providing access to healthy breakfast at school to more students.”

The schools selected for the grants are part of the federal Community Eligibility Provision program, which serves schools with large amounts of low-income and at-risk students to provide free meals for all students regardless of economic status. 

The grants Cooper announced will support the districts in receiving maximum access to federal reimbursement for the student’s free meals. The money will also go toward purchasing kitchen and serving equipment to promote capacity and efficiency for preparing meals and providing them to students. 

The Carolina Hunger Initiative and the N.C. Alliance for Health are responsible for a grant program which selected the awarded districts and charter schools.

Cooper proclaimed 2024 as the “Year of Public Schools” earlier this year at his childhood school, Nashville Elementary School in Nash County. 

The school districts and charter schools selected for the grants include:

  • Alexander County Schools
  • Arapahoe Charter School
  • Asheboro City Schools
  • Buncombe County Schools
  • Cabarrus County Schools
  • Catawba County Schools
  • Cherokee County Schools
  • Cleveland County Schools
  • Craven County Schools
  • Durham Public Schools
  • Edgecombe County Public Schools
  • Graham County Schools
  • Greene County Public Schools
  • Guilford County Schools
  • Guilford Preparatory Academy Charter School
  • Halifax County Schools
  • Henderson Collegiate
  • Henderson County Public Schools
  • Iredell-Statesville Schools
  • Johnston County Public Schools
  • Madison County Schools
  • Mitchell County Schools
  • New Hanover County Schools
  • North East Carolina Prep School
  • Pamlico County Schools
  • Pender County Schools
  • Polk County Schools
  • Robeson County Schools
  • Rockingham County Schools
  • Rowan-Salisbury Schools
  • Rutherford County Schools
  • Sampson County Schools
  • Surry County Schools
  • Swain County Schools
  • Transylvania County Schools
  • Tyrrell County Schools
  • Union County Public Schools
  • Wake County Public School System
  • Washington County Schools
  • Wilkes County Schools
  • Wilson County Schools
  • Yadkin County Schools