Southfield Regional Academic Campus senior Steven Fields grabs breakfast on his way into school March 7.

Southfield Regional Academic Campus senior Steven Fields grabs breakfast on his way into school March 7.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Oakland Schools launches ‘Better with Breakfast’ program

Select SPS schools to receive free breakfast under initiative

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published March 12, 2019

 United Way of Southeastern Michigan President and CEO Darienne Driver speaks about the importance of breakfast March 7 at the Southfield Regional Academic Campus as Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent of Oakland Schools, looks on.

United Way of Southeastern Michigan President and CEO Darienne Driver speaks about the importance of breakfast March 7 at the Southfield Regional Academic Campus as Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent of Oakland Schools, looks on.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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OAKLAND COUNTY — It’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason. 

To make sure kids have access to the morning fuel they need, Oakland Schools recently launched the Better with Breakfast program. 

For the program, Oakland Schools partnered with Oakland County and the United Way to provide breakfast for select schools in the county. 

“We know that too many kids are coming to school hungry,” Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Woodward said. “We also know that it’s hard for kids to learn if you’re hungry, and lastly, we know how to fix the problem. Knowing all of that — that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to fix the problem.” 

The program was officially launched March 7 during a press conference at the Southfield Regional Academic Campus, 21705 Evergreen Road, where the program is already being implemented.

Carts of breakfast food — ranging from fruit to milk to muffins to breakfast sandwiches — are being placed at the main entrance to the schools so that students can grab their breakfast as they head in for the day. The meal is available to all students and can be eaten in their classrooms as they start their day. 

In addition to the SRAC, in  Southfield, the program is also available at Stevenson Elementary School, Levey Middle School, Adler Middle School, Thompson K-8 International Academy and Vandenberg Elementary School. 

Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, the superintendent of Oakland Schools, said students who go without breakfast are at an immediate disadvantage. 

“Do you think it would be hard to focus on education and learning when your stomach is growling? And if your stomach is growling louder than the teacher is talking? That might be a hard thing to do,” Cook-Robinson said. 

According to a study by the United Way, the small change in the students’ routine can make a big difference. 

The United Way reports that students who eat breakfast have 17.5 percent higher scores on standardized math tests, take fewer trips to the school nurse, have better attendance and graduation rates, and function overall better in a classroom setting. 

President and CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan Dr. Darienne Driver said she knows first hand the impact that breakfast can have on students. 

“As a former teacher, when you think about breakfast … you can’t get started. I can have the best curriculum and all of the tools and the best little gadgets in the world. But if my kids were hungry, we’re not going to get very far,” Driver said. “If children don’t have access to the most basic needs, we’re stuck before we get started.” 

SRAC Principal Dwayne Eason said that since the school got the breakfast cart in October, he has already seen a dramatic change in his students. 

Eason said that at first, students were bypassing the cart, so he started standing at the door and telling students to help themselves. 

“After a couple days of me pushing and pushing and pushing, they finally started grabbing something, and everyone realized they had to grab something,” Eason said. 

If the students truly didn’t want the food, they were asked to place it in a basket in the hallway, where students could grab a snack between classes if they were hungry. 

“They said, ‘I would not have gotten breakfast without the food being there,’” Eason said. “The teachers are actually saying the kids are more energetic. Instead of them coming in and putting their head down, they have the energy to actually come in and do the work.” 

For more information, go to oakgov.com/betterwithbreakfast. 

Call Staff Writer Kayla Dimick at (586) 279-1108. 

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