PRESS RELEASE: Holyoke Public Schools Honored with $10,000 for Commitment to After the Bell Breakfast

PRESS RELEASE: Holyoke Public Schools Honored with $10,000 for Commitment to After the Bell Breakfast


April 26, 2018



PRESS RELEASE: Holyoke Public Schools Honored with $10,000 for Commitment to After the Bell Breakfast


HOLYOKE, Massachusetts – At an event at the Massachusetts Statehouse today, Receiver/Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike, Jr. received the Eos Foundation Healthy Start Leadership Award and accompanying $10,000 grant on behalf of Holyoke Public Schools for exemplary efforts to expand universal free, after the bell, breakfast in the classroom (BIC) programming across all 10 schools serving grades PreK-12 in Holyoke.


Seven Holyoke Public Schools were honored with an Eos Foundation Healthy Start Award and accompanying $500 grant for being among the schools in Massachusetts that are known to consistently reach 80% school breakfast participation rates. The dedicated efforts of these schools’ principals, teachers, custodians, school nutrition staff, secretaries and nurses ensure that hungry children start their school day with a nutritious breakfast, ready to learn.

“As adults, we know that feeling hungry negatively impacts our mood and ability to focus. Think about a student walking into class feeling this way.” Said Principal Johan Breish of Sullivan School. “By moving the time and location of breakfast to after the bell and in the classroom, we saw a jump from 37% to 97% of students participating. Morning visits to the nurse are down and time on learning is both up and improved. BIC is a great program for our students!”


There are approximately 600 schools in the Commonwealth with 60% or higher free- and reduced-price student populations in grades PreK-12. The majority of students at these schools participate in school lunch, but only half regularly participate in school breakfast because most schools still offer a morning meal before school starts. By transitioning to an after the bell breakfast model, where students eat for the first 10-15 minutes of the school day in their classrooms, breakfast participation is known to increase dramatically, reaching 80%+ rates of participation. If all high need schools in the state-operated optimal after the bell programs, 153,000 more students across the state would have access to breakfast each morning, and schools would tap into $32,000,000 in additional USDA meal reimbursements.

“Making school breakfast available after the bell is foundational to our turn-around work in Holyoke,” said Receiver/Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike. “It was one of the first steps we took to improve learning outcomes for students.”

“After the bell breakfast in the classroom is a straightforward solution to combat childhood hunger in Massachusetts, with well-documented academic, behavioral, financial, and economic development benefits for kids and school districts,” said Andrea Silbert, President of the Eos Foundation. “Eos is thrilled to have such a strong partner in Dr. Zrike and the talented team within Holyoke Public Schools. The work that Holyoke School teams – principals teachers, custodians, and cafeteria staff in particular – have done to implement after the bell programs is admirable and serves as a model for other schools in the state.”

A total of 160 Massachusetts schools received the $500 Healthy Start Awards this year their efforts to reach and maintain 80% or higher average daily participation in their school breakfast program.

The following schools in the Holyoke Public District were honored this year:

Maurice A. Donahue School – Principal Marc Swygert

Dr. Marcella R. Kelly School – Principal Isamar Vargas

H.B. Lawrence School – Principal Catherine Hourihan

Lt. Elmer J. McMahon School – Principal Noreen Ewick

William G. Morgan School – Principal Alyson Lingsch

Lt. Clayre Sullivan School – Principal John Breisch

E.N. White School – Principal Jacqueline Glasheen


The Eos Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in children’s futures. Specifically, the Foundation supports nonprofit organizations, public policies, and systemic solutions aimed at nourishing children’s bodies, nurturing their minds, and building family economic security.  For more information about the Eos Foundation please visit

 View video of the After the Bell Breakfast Program (Breakfast in the Classroom) in action at the Holyoke Public Schools at


Judy Taylor, Communications Director

(413) 493-1605,