Walmart Foundation Donates $400,000 to Help Feed Children at D.C. Schools

 Grant to D.C. Hunger Solutions provides equipment, training and technical assistance to increase participation in the school breakfast program at D.C. elementary, middle and high schools

Washington, D.C. The Walmart Foundation today announced a $400,000 grant to be administered by D.C. Hunger Solutions to help provide equipment, training and technical assistance to increase participation in the school breakfast program in D.C. schools.

Awarded as a part of Walmart’s $2 billion national commitment to help end hunger, the funds will be regranted to help public and public charter schools across D.C. implement innovative breakfast service models, such as “breakfast in the classroom” and “grab and go” breakfast. The funding is designed to complement, strengthen, and facilitate the effective implementation of the school breakfast components of the Healthy Schools Act, passed unanimously by the D.C. City Council in May 2010.

“A good school day starts with a good breakfast,” said Beverley R. Wheeler, President & CEO of Center City Public Charter Schools. “Since the enactment this school year of the District’s Healthy Schools Act, the city has made great strides forward, but it is grants like these that will get us across that goal line of universal implementation.”

“As part of our $2 billion commitment to hunger relief, we’re proud to support initiatives that are helping children get the healthy food they need to learn and grow,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. “Bringing breakfast to classrooms in D.C. will ensure students are getting the nutrients they need to support healthy development and to live better.”

The announcement comes during National School Breakfast Week, the culmination of a nationwide campaign by the School Nutrition Association to emphasize the importance of breakfast to students and their families. Today’s event, held at Center City Public Charter Schools’ Trinidad Campus featured Councilmember Harry Thomas along with officials from D.C. Hunger Solutions, the Walmart Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Brainfood, Martha's Table, and Bread for the City participating in the school breakfast program alongside the school’s first grade class. After breakfast, students gathered in a seventh grade classroom to cheer on the grant announcement.

More than 20 percent of households in the District of Columbia reported in 2009 not having enough money to buy food that they needed for themselves or their families at some time(s) during the prior 12 months, according to the FRAC analysis of data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. At 40.6 percent, the rate of food hardship for households with children was alarmingly higher than for other households.

“At a time when our city’s families are struggling, it is crucial programs like free breakfast in the schools that give children the nutrition they need to learn, stay healthy, and be active,” said Alexandra Ashbrook, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). “Grants like this one give the community the support needed to ensure that the breakfast program is being as effective as it can be, and reaching the thousands of low-income children in D.C. who desperately need school breakfasts.”

D.C. Hunger Solutions anticipates that the grant from Walmart will dramatically increase the number of children participating in the School Breakfast Program in the city. Breakfast has been shown to improve children’s academic performance, reduce hunger and food insecurity, and boost their health and well-being.

Among the provisions in the Healthy Schools Act are requirements that breakfast be made available free to all D.C. public and public charter school students and improvements be made in the quality of school meals through measures such as increased funding and higher nutrition standards. With its “Free Breakfast – That’s What’s Up” campaign, D.C. Hunger Solutions is working with D.C. Public Schools and the charter school community to provide best practices and outreach on the breakfast program. In addition, funds from the Walmart Foundation will be regranted to schools for equipment and other start-up costs to implement breakfast in the classroom.

Earlier this year, the Walmart Foundation also awarded a $50,000 grant to D.C. Hunger Solutions to support providing nutritious foods during the summer by increasing participation in the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program.

The Walmart Foundation is committed to supporting opportunities that provide breakfast in the classroom. In early 2011, Walmart Foundation granted $3 million in funding to support school breakfast initiatives at schools in Dallas, Little Rock, Memphis, Orlando and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Through its school breakfast initiatives, the Foundation aims to increase breakfast consumption among schoolchildren and spark the academic and nutritional gains associated with a morning meal.

About D.C. Hunger Solutions
D.C. Hunger Solutions, founded in 2002 as an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), works to create a hunger-free community and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income District residents.

About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. The Walmart Foundation funds initiatives focused on education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From Feb. 1, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $512 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally, $467 million of which was donated in the U.S. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.