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Did you know HCPS offers free breakfast to every student, every day?

FREE Breakfast to Every Student, Every Day!

September 17, 2019 - Points of Pride

It’s 7:10am at Frost Elementary School in Riverview. Students are stepping off buses, placing bikes on the bike rack and climbing out of mom or dad’s car.

They walk into school and the first thing they see are carts placed strategically around the campus. On those carts are sausage biscuits, hard-boiled eggs, protein bars, apple slices and milk.

Many of the students walk straight up to their assigned cart, place food on a tray, type in their student number and walk away with a hearty, nutritious breakfast—for FREE!

Yes, FREE.

Did you know, every Hillsborough County Public School offers free breakfast for every student, every day?

This is something our district has been providing for the past 18 years. It’s evolving over time, however. Now, instead of having the students get their breakfast and eat in the cafeteria, about 60 of our schools are implementing Breakfast in the Classroom. That’s when students get their breakfast from one of the carts and eat in their classroom.

Sandra Buie, a third grade teacher at Frost, says she loves having her students eat in the classroom. “We get morning work in early,” she says. “We can get moving and get work done. I can even get a small group in while they are eating breakfast.”

Ms. Buie even makes cleaning-up part of the lesson plan. Her students know where the broom is if they drop crumbs, and there are trash cans set up in the hallways right outside the rooms for students to drop their trays in.

Free breakfast is a service Hillsborough County Public Schools is proud to offer our students. Right now, about 40% of students take advantage of the free breakfast program. Our Student Nutrition Services department wants to see that number go even higher.

There are three significant benefits to having students eat breakfast every day:

  • Eating breakfast leads to improved concentration. Students are more able to focus on the task at hand and become less distracted. They’re also able to understand and retain information better than students who are hungry because they skipped breakfast.
  • Students who eat breakfast before starting the day score better on math, reading and science tests.
  • Students who eat breakfast have increased energy. When students wake up and go to school without eating breakfast they start the day with low blood sugar that just keeps getting lower. This can leave them feeling sluggish and makes it more difficult to get through the day.

Additionally, there’s evidence to suggest serving breakfast at school helps increase attendance.

Free breakfast in school isn’t just for our lower income families—it’s for EVERYONE. We know the morning can get really hectic and sometimes it’s tough to make sure our kids get a healthy breakfast before school. This program helps. Knowing that you can drop your child off at school and they have the opportunity to eat a good breakfast is a game-changer for many families.

And, for some children, 7:30 a.m. is just too early to eat breakfast. So that’s why we also offer something called a “Later Bag”—it’s a small bag filled with unperishable food that the student can eat a little bit later when they get hungry.

At Frost Elementary, the “Later Bag” was filled with a banana protein bar and an applesauce packet. 

By 7:40 a.m. the school day was underway. The campus was calm and students were happily munching on their breakfasts while their teachers got started with instruction.

One cart, still filled with food, was left outside the cafeteria for the students showing up a bit later. No student will go hungry. That’s our goal.