First Lady Frances Wolf joined Feeding Pennsylvania and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank for a visit to Mechanicsburg Area School District’s Elmwood Academy as part of National School Breakfast Week. During her visit, the First Lady highlighted Governor Wolf’s ongoing commitment to investing in education at all levels – including ensuring that every child in the commonwealth has access to a healthy breakfast to start their day.
“Ask any teacher and they will tell you that food is a basic school supply – just like books, just like pencils,” said First Lady Frances Wolf. “If kids don’t have a full stomach, they simply cannot do their best in school. Yet today, one in six Pennsylvania children struggle with hunger. That’s why we started the Pennsylvania School Breakfast initiative last year to help more schools, like Elmwood Academy, expand access to breakfast programs that work.”
“Our greatest resource as Pennsylvanians is our students – and schools like Elmwood that prepare them to be our future leaders. We must ensure that we give them the tools they need to succeed – and that includes a healthy breakfast every morning.”
Governor Wolf proposed the School Breakfast Initiative as part of his 2017-18 budget to help more children start their day with a healthy meal. Last year the Department of Education announced an inaugural round of grants to help 200 Pennsylvania schools make breakfast available and accessible to all students. As part of that initiative, Elmwood Academy received $4,955 in School Breakfast funding which enabled the school to purchase a “grab-n-go” breakfast cart to encourage more students to participate in breakfast. Mechanicsburg Area High School also received a $4,979 School Breakfast grant, which has helped to increased their breakfast participation by 50 percent.
“I would like to thank First Lady Frances Wolf and Governor Tom Wolf for their commitment to ensuring that no child goes hungry,” said Mechanicsburg Area School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Leidy. “Through their advocacy and investment, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students starting their day with a healthy breakfast at our high school – and with the First Lady’s support we are hoping to increase participation here at Elmwood Academy as well.”
The First Lady was joined at Elmwood Academy by food security advocates and school nutrition experts from Feeding Pennsylvania and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
“Feeding Pennsylvania and our member food banks are working every day to ensure that no child in our state goes hungry,” said Jane Clements-Smith, Executive Director, Feeding Pennsylvania. “Nutrition is essential for learning and students who are hungry will not be able to concentrate and thus not be able to learn to their fullest potential. Hear the Pennsylvania Crunch! is a great way to get schools involved in the breakfast program and helps to spread awareness for the 1 in 6 children in our state who are at risk of hunger.”
Hear the Pennsylvania Crunch! is organized by Feeding Pennsylvania to spread the message that every child in Pennsylvania should have access to a healthy school breakfast. Research shows that eating breakfast helps children concentrate and learn while in school. Students who eat school breakfast perform better on tests, have better health, and are less likely to be absent from school. School breakfast is a critical support for struggling families trying to stretch limited resources and provides children a significant portion of the nutrition they need to learn and be healthy.
The School Breakfast initiative is another example of Governor Wolf’s continued commitment to ensuring that Pennsylvania has the best public school system and workforce in the nation. His 2019-20 state budget proposal builds on the success of PAsmart to create opportunities for Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement. The governor’s Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP) expands access to early childhood education, increases investments in schools, and partners with the private sector to build on the PAsmart initiative.
The governor also created the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center to expand the collaboration between government and the private sector to address the skills gap and worker shortages. The departments of Community and Economic Development, Labor and Industry, and State will work with external leaders from the Chamber of Business and Industry, AFL-CIO and Team Pennsylvania to build the strongest workforce in the nation.