Oakland County Better with Breakfast initiative launched

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On hand for a press conference announcing the Oakland County Better with Breakfast initiative last Thursday were (left to right) Oakland County Commissioner Janet Jackson; Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman David T. Woodward; President & CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan Dr. Darienne Driver; Superintendent of Oakland Schools Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson; and Principal Dwayne Eason of Southfield Regional Academic Campus (SRAC).

– Photo courtesy of Oakland County Board of Commissioners


Last Thursday, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, in partnership with Oakland Schools and United Way for Southeastern Michigan, announced the launch of the Oakland County Better with Breakfast initiative to bring universal breakfast to thousands of students across Oakland County.

“Oakland County will be the first county in Michigan to launch a universal breakfast program of this scale, so students don’t start school hungry,” said Board Chairman David T. Woodward (D-Royal Oak), who led the creation of the initiative. “Learning is harder when you’re hungry. We’re going fix that problem for thousands, so they all have better opportunities in school.”

Child nutrition and academic performance are inextricably linked. The goal of the initiative is to expand free breakfast to students in eligible schools across Oakland County through this unique collaboration. Oakland County Schools will partner with United Way to create a custom breakfast plan for each targeted school in the county. It is the largest countywide effort to expand school breakfast in the state, and it applies proven best practices already in place in some area schools.

The announcement was made at the Southfield Regional Academic Campus (SRAC) in Southfield, a school that has successfully implemented the program for its students, and featured remarks from Woodward, Superintendent of Oakland Schools Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson and President & CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan Dr. Darienne Driver.

“Oakland Schools is proud to support the Oakland County Better with Breakfast program. Through this unprecedented partnership, expanding breakfast access to eligible schools across the county will enable students to focus on learning. The Oakland County Better with Breakfast program is a necessity and Oakland Schools is delighted to be a partner,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson.

“All students regardless of socio-economic status should have access to breakfast,” said Dr. Darienne Driver. “The Better with Breakfast initiative is a model that works, which is why we’re committed to partnering with municipalities, school districts and others to remove barriers and ensure more children across the region may benefit from this alternative breakfast program.”

Commissioner Janet Jackson (D-Southfield), whose district includes SRAC, welcomed attendees. Principal Dwayne Eason discussed the process of implementing the program in his school and emphasized its benefits for student performance and health. Woodward and the other key partners hope the successes of the Oakland County Better with Breakfast model will engage lawmakers and prompt support from the Michigan legislature, making it possible to scale this type of critical program statewide.

The initiative is being launched with funding from Oakland County and Oakland Schools. It will be phased in over the next three years. Participating schools will receive new equipment, technical assistance for implementation and funding for non-reimbursable meal costs. Nearly 70 schools across the county are being targeted with the goal of providing more than 3,500 students with access to free breakfast at school every day. At full implementation, the program is expected to draw down $1.2 million in additional funding through federal reimbursements, with that money going directly back into these schools.

“This initiative will reach thousands of kids every day and position them for better success in school. Success in schools means success for Oakland County,” said Woodward. “We’re investing in our kids today so we can all enjoy a better future.”

Additional information about the Oakland County Better with Breakfast program is available on the Board’s website at www.oakgov.com/betterwithbreakfast or by calling 248-858-0100.

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