Rachelle's Blog from Helena: Expanding Food Access in Helena Public Schools

These past few weeks have been quite busy, with lots of potential for the future. I have been working on a multitude of different things, some of which have finally started to take shape! One of my current main objectives is to work on expanding food access through school breakfast and lunch programs. At the beginning of the year, the Principal at Central Elementary School approached the food service director, expressing his interest in implementing Breakfast in the Classroom. We saw this as a unique opportunity, as it is sometimes difficult to convince schools of the benefits of alternative breakfast models. We immediately hit the ground running, by talking with the food service staff, custodial staff, and teachers, to see if this would be a feasible approach at Central. After careful consideration, the Principal decided to go with a grab-and-go model, where students pick up their breakfast in the gym, and take it to eat in their first class.

After notifying parents and purchasing the necessary equipment for the launch, Central Elementary successfully transitioned over to Breakfast in the Classroom! Since the switch, their breakfast count has increased from an average of about 60 students to between 100 and 110 on a daily basis. We are very grateful for all of the internal support from the school, and the opportunity to feed more children healthy, balanced meals.

Looking to the future, we are also hoping to secure funding to purchase a food truck, that will be used to add and serve at more summer meal sites. This food truck will also be used during the academic year at the two main high schools in Helena. We hope that with the addition of the food truck to our food service, we will be able to reach more vulnerable youth during the summer months that might not otherwise eat, while also encouraging high school students to stay on campus for a healthy lunch, instead of going to local fast food restaurants. I am currently working on writing a grant that will allow us to access funds to purchase the food truck, which will then be financially self-sustaining after the initial purchase. More to come soon!