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Making the Right Connections in New Mexico

The No Kid Hungry New Mexico Campaign, an initiative of the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger, is gaining partners and momentum.  The campaign is less than a year old, but already progress has been made on the 2011 goals: Increasing participation in the summer meals program, school breakfast, and SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  It’s so important to connect eligible people with the federal nutrition safety net.  And that is exactly what Share Our Strength and its partners are doing in New Mexico and across the nation to end childhood hunger.

Part of the No Kid Hungry New Mexico campaign centers on school breakfast, an area of special interest to me. I can see the potential to reach more children just by changing the way breakfast is offered to students. A healthy breakfast makes a big impact on a child’s well being – physically and mentally.  That translates to better attentiveness, performance and behavior in school, too.   This method also eliminates the stigma for low-income children of coming to school early for a free breakfast in the cafeteria. And many children simply can’t get to school before the first bell.

Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig speaks to school superintendents and food service directors about expanding school breakfast at the New Mexico School Breakfast Summit in Albuquerque on Nov. 15.

Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig speaks to school superintendents and food service directors about expanding school breakfast at the New Mexico School Breakfast Summit in Albuquerque on Nov. 15.

Part of the No Kid Hungry New Mexico plan includes implementation of alternate service models for school breakfast in high poverty counties.  As part of training and outreach to schools, the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger hosted the New Mexico School Breakfast Summit on Nov.  15. Meghann Dallin is the program manager for the New Mexico No Kid Hungry Campaign. She explained that an important goal of the summit was to connect school districts interested in expanding their breakfast programs with the right people. All the key players were there including state organizations that provide support and technical assistance to schools wanting to adopt breakfast models that increase access to the program.

I was happy to be a part of the summit and to tell the story of how breakfast in the classroom is already increasing participation in large and small school districts in Texas and Arkansas. Summit sessions included the role of school breakfast in reducing child hunger, alternative breakfast models, tools to facilitate breakfast expansion and lessons learned from successful programs in New Mexico. As in all No Kid Hungry endeavors, key partners came together with the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger to plan the summit, including Dairy MAX, the Student Nutrition Bureau of the New Mexico Public Education Department, and the New Mexico School Nutrition Association. I’m proud to be a part of the New Mexico No Kid Hungry initiative which is making all the right connections to end hunger in New Mexico.

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