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Eating with class: Butte elementary students start the day on a full stomach

BUTTE, Mont. – After the Pledge of Allegiance on Tuesday, it was back to eating breakfast for students at West Elementary who took part in Breakfast After the Bell, which moves breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom.

“So they’re going through the announcements, they’re going through homework assignments and all that time the kids are eating. They’re talking to their friends and the time they’re done, it’s time to start the day, time to learn,” said Central Service Director Kurt Marthaller.

The program has been in place for the past year at West and Kennedy Elementary. More than 80 percent of the students at West are eating breakfast now, as opposed to only 30 percent prior to the program. It’s shown good results, too.

“The absences and tardies have gone way down. Tardies are kind of a thing of the past and we’ve been very, very fortunate,” said West Elementary Principal Pat Kissell.

Americorps members received $28,000 in grants for the No Kid Hungry program that makes sure all students who want a breakfast will get one.

“Bringing to the classroom, we see this whole culture shift. Kids are excited about eating and they’re excited about nutrition,” said Americorps member Haley McKnight. “This is really a huge benefit to our low-income population, to where they maybe don’t have the time or money to eat in the morning, but they’re going to be taken care of in school.

The students had their own thoughts about breakfast in the classroom.

“I like to be eating breakfast because my tummy likes to be happy to eat, because I know I like to eat,” student Joseph Buck said.

“They have a new found jump start in their day and they are absolutely ready, so our academic progress has risen and it’s a direct result of what we’re doing right here, right now,” Kissel said.

Learning on a full stomach.

Officials plan to start this same program at East Middle School in the next few weeks.

John Emeigh

John Emeigh

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