Pulaski County declares March “School Breakfast Month” with USDA and Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. (March 15, 2023) – Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde declared the month of March “School Breakfast Month” and presented the proclamation to Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance with visitors from the USDA and local child nutrition specialists on Wednesday.

Representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) Southwest Region joined child nutrition directors from the Little Rock School District, North Little Rock School District, and Arkansas School for the Blind for the proclamation presentation in the Quorum Court at the Pulaski County Administration Building.

“USDA is a critical partner in being able to do this for the children, not only in Pulaski County and Central Arkansas but all across the state,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde. “It’s an honor to have you.”

Little Rock School District’s Director of Child Nutrition Stephanie Walker-Hynes said the district sees a lot of children eating breakfast at school.

“We probably feed about 8,000 breakfasts a day…this offers [the students] nutrients and a well-balanced diet,” Walker-Hynes said.

Arkansas School For The Blind Child Nutrition Director Barbara Cole said she encourages students to eat breakfast daily.

“Research shows that students who eat breakfast are better behaved in the classroom. They’re ready to learn [and take] less trips to the nurse’s station,” Cole said.

During the presentation, USDA Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig spoke about developing a hunger relief plan for children in Arkansas.

“The first push we had was Breakfast in the Classroom…It’s an outstanding goal to make sure all of the children in Arkansas eat breakfast for the entire month,” Ludwig said.

The proclamation states the school breakfast program ensures Arkansan students are healthy and active, helping them reach their full academic potential. 

“No child should ever go hungry,” said Judge Hyde. “I always say we deserve the most work for the most needy in our community and at the very top of that list is our children.”

He also recognized the local child nutrition directors for their work addressing hunger in Pulaski County schools.

“We have wonderful people supporting us, but you guys are the boots on the ground. Thank you so much for your work in our schools.”

According to the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), 63.64% of Arkansas students, including over 70% of students in some of the school districts in Pulaski County, qualified for free or reduced-priced meals in the 2022-2023 school year.

In the proclamation, the County “encourages the community to learn more about hunger and take action to ensure that every student in Pulaski County has access to school breakfast and lunch throughout the school year.”

After the presentation, the USDA-FNS conducted a Healthy Kids Initiative discussion session with the local child nutrition professionals. 

The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance has sponsored School Breakfast Month each year since 2010, when the Alliance became the lead partner for the No Kid Hungry Campaign in Arkansas. 

Since June 2022, Pulaski County Quorum Court has provided $500,000 to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to facilitate the Pulaski County Hunger Reduction Initiative.

“Initiatives like School Breakfast Month and Pulaski County’s partnership with Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance are just some of the ways we can raise awareness about and address child hunger,” Judge Hyde said.