October 05, 2011

BreakfastFirst Campaign Success with SPAC

By Catherine Carlton, Endowment Fund Committee Member, 2010-2011 Senior SPAC Delegate

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, issued a letter on Wednesday endorsing innovative school breakfast models. Torlakson announced that he is now the Honorary Chair of the Breakfast First Campaign, emphasized that Classroom Breakfast and instructional minutes are perfectly compatible [referencing the prior State Supt./State Controller letter on the subject], and strongly promoted the BreakfastFirst Campaign!

This is wonderful support for school breakfast advocates working to ensure that all children start the day well-nourished and ready to learn through innovative school breakfast models! It doesn't mandate a conversation about breakfasts, but it does go a long way to meet our goal of working to educate the school boards, school administrators, etc. about the benefits of breakfast. State Superintendent Torklakson's letter is below, for your reference. As Honorary Chair of the Breakfast First Campaign, he will continue the effort to support Breakfast First implementation in schools throughout California.


Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Nutrition Service Directors:

I am proud to be the new honorary chair of the BreakfastFirst Campaign. Promoting the School Breakfast Program (SBP) is integral to my Team California for Healthy Kids campaign, which focuses on making healthy choices the easy choices. In alignment with the Team California goal to promote good eating habits, BreakfastFirst aims to ensure that all students are served an optimally nutritious breakfast using innovative models such as Classroom Breakfast, Grab-and-Go, and Second Chance Breakfast. These models are known to dramatically increase participation, bringing the benefits of school breakfast to the maximum number of students.

Research confirms the clear connection between health, learning, and attendance. Healthy children are more successful in school, miss fewer days of school, are more attentive and well behaved, and are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college.

Healthy students not only excel academically, but also are more likely to be positively engaged in social, community, and extra-curricular activities. The implementation of inventive models like Classroom Breakfast links nutrition to our joint goal of increasing academic achievement in school. In most cases, the breakfast can be completely supported by federal and state meal reimbursement. In addition, as former Superintendent Jack O'Connell and State Controller John Chiang shared in a joint letter last year, "As long as the breakfast is served and eaten in the classroom while otherwise allowable instructional activities are underway, the time will not be considered free time by auditors . . . The SBP is an easy way to enhance children's health and improve their academic achievement." The full letter is located on the CDE Breakfast in the Classroom - Letters Web page.

I urge you to expand your School Breakfast Program (especially outside of the cafeteria) to serve the nutritional needs of your students and to strengthen their academic performance. If you would like information on innovative breakfast models, visit the California Food Policy Advocates Web site for the BreakfastFirst Campaign. You may also contact your Field Services Unit Child Nutrition Consultant by phone at 916-445-0850 or 800-952-5609.

Sincerely, Tom Torlakson

The following information regarding the JLPA-MP's involvement with the State Public Affairs Committee can also be found on our website.


The State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of California (SPAC) is a non-partisan education and advocacy organization, representing 16 member Leagues, nearly 12,000 members, and millions of fundraising dollars in support for community programs that assist women and families.

Since 1971, SPAC has represented the interest of its member Leagues and the groups or issue areas addressed by Junior League projects accross California to policymakers at the national, state and local levels.

SPAC advocates in four issue areas: health, education, family support, and violence prevention.

The members of the SPAC delegation: 
  • ADVOCATE for specific legislation relevant to member league issues
  • EDUCATE their home Junior League members
  • COORDINATE the exchange of information from community based league projects to policy makers.
Since 1992, SPAC has sponsored six bills, and co-sponsored two bills, that are now California Law; sponsored one California Resolution; and co-sponsored one Congressional Resolution.

Each year, SPAC solicits ideas for potential new legislation by holding its "There Ought to Be a Law" contest.

To learn more about the League's advocacy work, please download the CalSpac brochure, visit the CalSpac website or email the JLPA•MP delegates at spacdelegates@thejuniorleague.org.

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