DMPS Selected for Breakfast in the Classroom Initiative

Des Moines Public School students will benefit from a nutritious morning meal throughout the school year thanks to the expansion of the Breakfast in the Classroom program, funded by the Walmart Foundation. More than 6,000 students at 15 local schools will now participate in the free breakfast program, allowing them to reap the nutritional and academic benefits associated with a morning meal. The addition of Des Moines Public Schools brings the total number of school districts benefiting from Breakfast in the Classroom to 15 this year.

Des Moines Public Schools was selected as one of 10 U.S. school districts to participate in the second phase of Breakfast in the Classroom, which is a joint initiative from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, National Education Association Health Information Network and School Nutrition Foundation – collectively known as the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. The Partners also are working in conjunction with the Food Bank of Iowa.  Through a $5 million grant from the Walmart Foundation, the program reworks how school breakfast is delivered, by offering it to all students at no charge and moving it from the cafeteria to the classroom, in an effort to improve participation in the federally-funded School Breakfast Program and boost learning and health.

“As a program, Breakfast in the Classroom provides noticeable improvements to child behavior and concentration, as well as decreased tardiness and absenteeism,” said Sandy Huisman, Food Service Director, Des Moines Public Schools. “This year, we look forward to seeing the benefits of the breakfast program impact the daily lives of our students and staff.”  

While most U.S. schools offer meal programs, many students do not participate in cafeteria-based school breakfast programs because of bus schedules, late arrivals to school, pressure to go directly to class or reluctance to be labeled as “low income.” In fact, before Breakfast in the Classroom launched in Des Moines Public Schools, data showed 68 percent of students were qualified for free and reduced-price meals, yet only around 30 percent were eating the breakfast available to them.  

“The Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom and the participating school districts understand the important role food plays in helping our children grow into healthy and well-educated young adults,” said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. “By working community-by-community to address the issue of child hunger at the local level, we are making strategic changes that will benefit the lives of thousands of our nation’s children.”

The local schools participating in the program include: Hiatt Middle School, Findley Elementary, Edmunds Academy, McKinley Elementary, King Elementary, Carver Elementary, Monroe Elementary, Howe Elementary, Hoyt Middle School, Weeks Middle School, Madison Elementary, Garton Elementary, Cattell Elementary, Stowe Elementary and South Union Elementary.

The Partners selected Des Moines Public Schools and nine other new school districts to participate in the program this year based on need and potential for success. The other districts are: Charleston County School District, S.C.; Denver Public Schools, Colo.; Elgin School District U-46, Ill.; Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, N.C.; Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Ky.; Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, Kan.; Knox County Schools, Knoxville, Tenn.; and Pinellas County Schools, Largo, Fla. A tenth district will be announced in the coming weeks. The inaugural five districts that implemented Breakfast in the Classroom in the 2010-2011 school year continue to see success with the program, and surpassed their combined initial goal of ensuring that more than 10,000 additional children received school breakfast each day across all five school districts, bringing the total amount of additional children eating breakfast to 10,463 at the end of the first year. The districts include: Dallas Independent School District, Texas; Little Rock School District, Ark.; Memphis City Schools, Tenn.; Orange County Public Schools, Fla. (including Orlando); and Prince George’s County Public Schools, Md. 

As more schools adopt the Breakfast in the Classroom approach, the Partners anticipate participation in the federally-funded School Breakfast Program will increase, helping reduce hunger and improve educational achievement nationwide.

Breakfast in the Classroom is part of a $2 billion cash and in-kind multi-year commitment (through 2015) by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to fight hunger in America. For more information, visit