Students at Kellom Elementary School this morning had breakfast with two executives: OPS Superintendent Mark Evans, and ConAgra Foods CEO Gary Rodkin. The men were at the North Omaha school to announce ConAgra's offer of incentives to encourage more schools to offer a new style of breakfast service.
Kellom already serves breakfast in the classroom. The district wants more schools to follow suit. School officials say more students participate in breakfast when it is served as a sack meal they can take to the classroom, instead of as a meal to be eaten in the noisy cafeteria before class.
As we reported in today's paper, the incentive funds are part of $4 million ConAgra will give over the next three years to support programs that aim to fight food insecurity among households with children.
"We want to really make a difference in our own backyard," Rodkin said. Childhood hunger, he said, "is much more prevalent than anyone could imagine."
Approximately 32,000 of the 180,000 children in Douglas and Sarpy Counties live in households that experience “food insecurity,” as measured by answers to several questions on a USDA household survey.
Beyond expanding breakfast service, ConAgra’s $4 million program also will support the Food Bank for the Heartland to increase the number of after-school and summer feeding sites and to help more eligible families enroll in SNAP, the federal food stamp program.
ConAgra will also expand Creighton University’s Financial Hope Collaborative, a financial literacy program for low-income single mothers. And its grants will help the three largest local food pantries coordinate their services so they can be more efficient in connecting clients with food, job services and medical care.