Kids in all-day kindergarten and first grade at four Springfield schools will now have an afternoon milk break to help maintain their energy for learning through the pilot “Healthy Half Pints” project funded by a philanthropic coalition.
“Healthy Half Pints” will provide a half pint of milk each afternoon to about 420 students at Sunshine, Delaware, Mark Twain and McGregor elementary schools. These schools have at least 50 percent of their students eligible for free or reduced- price lunch and do not currently offer an afternoon snack program.
The Musgrave Foundation brought this issue to the attention of a coalition of private Springfield philanthropic foundations convened periodically by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. After planning with Springfield Public Schools during the fall semester, Musgrave, the Pendleton Family Foundation, North Point Church and the CFO agreed to fund the $10,000 cost to pilot the four-school project during the spring semester beginning this week.
“Healthy Half Pints” focuses specifically on the all-day kindergarten and first-grade students because they have the earliest lunch sessions, starting about 10:30 a.m. These students may go from late morning until dinner time without a nutritional snack.
“Ensuring that students make it through the day without the distraction of hunger maximizes opportunities for teaching and learning,” said Dr. Ben Hackenwerth, associate superintendent for elementary schools. “The Healthy Half Pints project is an excellent example of community agencies partnering with the school district to support our students and our schools.”
David Taylor, communications manager for the Musgrave Foundation, said colleagues who learned about the situation brought it to the Foundation’s attention.
“The Musgrave Foundation, really since the beginning of the recession, has put an emphasis on hunger relief for children through seniors,” he said. “Kindergarteners and first graders have a soft spot in our hearts because they typically eat lunch early and then their little bellies are hungry by mid-afternoon. If they are going into a home that is food insecure and they’re not getting a good evening meal, that’s a long time before they get back to school the next day.”
The Pendleton Family Foundation has a particular interest in supporting Sunshine Elementary, so that school’s “Healthy Half Pints” participation was arranged by Sally Pendleton Phillips, donor advisor to the Pendleton Family Foundation.
Adam Swenka, with North Point Church, said the pilot project fits with the church’s mission of providing outreach to the public schools so North Point was interested in participating after learning about the gap in resources that created the need for this project.
The pilot project is an example of how Springfield philanthropic organizations can address gaps in community needs that aren’t covered by other resources, CFO President Brian Fogle said.
“The CFO has been tackling hunger insecurity across our region through grantmaking and our large network of affiliate and school foundations developing financial support for food pantries and backpack programs,” Fogle said. “This is an extension of that work and our efforts to collaborate with other funders in our region.”