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Des Moines Elementary Students Can Start the Day with Free Breakfast

Daniel Go/Flickr

Students returned to school this week at Des Moines Public Schools, and it’s the first year the district offers all elementary school students breakfast at no charge.

Research shows tardiness decreases, attendance increases and there are fewer trips to the school nurse when students eat breakfast. Des Moines is the first district in the state to offer the morning meals at no charge to all of its elementary students.  Amanda Miller, the district’s Director of Food and Nutrition, says giving all kids the option eliminates social stigmas suggesting only kids who can’t afford to eat at home can eat at school.

“And so by eliminating those barriers we’re allowing any elementary student to come in and try breakfast with us,” Miller says.

She says students loop through a kiosk or the cafeteria to pick up their breakfast.

“So, they put everything in a little bag to help their little hands carry everything and move to their classroom and then they eat in their classroom, usually while the teacher is taking attendance or roll,” Miller says.

The program is paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A spokesperson with the Iowa Department of Education says 142 school buildings in the state offer breakfast at no charge. Des Moines has 39 elementary schools.