Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School is the state winner of the Most Improved School award in the Maryland Breakfast Challenge.

Representatives from the No Kid Hungry Maryland campaign and the American Dairy Association hosted a Maryland Breakfast Challenge Celebration to highlight the positive impact of school breakfast. Higdon won the state challenge after increasing the percentage of students eating breakfast at school by 17 percent. As the most improved school, Higdon received a $2,000 check from Dairy Association and No Kid Hungry Maryland.

Principal Kathy Morgan said, “I am so excited because Dr. Thomas L. Higdon is the state winner for the Most Improved Category for the Maryland Breakfast Challenge. We took some extra steps this year to make breakfast more fun and exciting and it paid off. Just by allowing students to eat in the classroom, they are ready to take on the day and be excellent students.”

One of those extra steps included adding a “grab and go” kiosk where children can quickly pick up breakfast on the way to their classroom. As part of the celebration, business partners, and school system and elected officials joined fourth- and fifth-grade students in their classrooms for breakfast. The “grab and go” makes breakfast part of the school day. Higdon increased from serving an average of 111 breakfasts per day in 2015 to 181 breakfasts per day in 2016.

“It’s fast and allows students to eat a nutritious breakfast while participating in morning activities,” Morgan said.

In addition to receiving a check, the school received a banner and several plaques recognizing the efforts of the food services staff. Food Service Manager Jane Murphy and Food Service worker Tarra Jennings received special recognition for their work to ensure children have access to a healthy breakfast. The state challenge recognizes innovative solutions for increasing student participation in school breakfast programs.

According to a 2016 Hunger in our Schools Report, three out of four public school teachers say that students regularly come to school hungry. Educators agree, according to the report, that kids need to start the day with a healthy breakfast in order to do well in school. Even though nearly every school offers breakfast, 50 percent of teachers still say the problem has increased.

The Maryland School Breakfast Challenge Partners included No Kid Hungry Maryland, the Maryland State Department of Education, Action for Healthy Kids, Maryland Hunger Solutions, Maryland State Education Association and the Mid Atlantic Dairy Association. Locally, the Wills Group is a partner and sponsor of the Charles County Breakfast Challenge.