1 Texas Hunger Initiative: A Focus on Breakfast In the Classroom Emily Buratowski Under the Direction of John F. Tanner, Jr. Ph.D. Executive Director, Baylor Business Collaboratory
2 Abstract The fight against childhood hunger is familiar within the United States, especially within the nation s school districts. This collaboratory with the Texas Hunger Initiative program and students at Baylor University focuses on findings from implementing Breakfast In the Classroom (BIC) programs in the Dallas ISD and Round Rock ISD. Acknowledgments We gratefully appreciate the participation and support of the following individuals. This case would not have been possible without them. Texas Hunger Initiative About the Author Emily Buratowski is a senior double human resource management and public administration major at Baylor University, where she began her internship as a marketing communications specialist in the Fall of She will graduate in December of 2014 and plans to continue her education with a masters program. She can be reached at About the Baylor Business Collaboratory A collaboratory is a mash- up of collaborative laboratory an arrangement through which businesses and Baylor business faculty work together developing solutions to market challenges through innovative research. The Baylor Business Collaboratory partners include Cabela s, HEB, BancVue, and affiliates such as data warehousing leader Teradata. Key research questions sponsored and developed in conjunction with industry executives, analysts and others include to date: How to grow revenue and transactions without discounting. Identifying which marketing actions, channels and programs really drive revenue, customer satisfaction, and loyalty. Gathering, analyzing, interpreting, and applying Big Data to business problems. For additional information, please contact
3 The fight against childhood hunger is a fight all too familiar within the United States, especially within school districts. From feeding programs supported and operated by the Department of Agriculture (DOA), to Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), fighting childhood hunger by providing meals in schools has become a priority to many. The DOA first attacked the issue of childhood hunger in 2010 with the launch of the Summer Food Summer Program (SFSP). The goal was to target children who received free or reduced price lunches during the school year and to offer them a chance to receive meals during the summer months. What the studies found over the course of three years (starting with data in 2009 and continuing through the last year of studies, 2011) was that often times transportation and location were the main factors in determining if a child would make it to the location. With this knowledge, the Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) took the effort to implement and study BIC programs in the Dallas and Little Rock Independent School Districts. The goal of these efforts was to discover how a BIC program would affect breakfast- participation rates, academic outcomes, behavioral changes, and nutritional intake of students who participated. Using control schools that participated in a traditional school breakfast system, and BIC schools in the same district, the THI team recorded data from elementary school students over the and school year. The flowchart above illustrates the research that was conducted. Each school, and each child that participated, answered questions through the first four
4 categories. However in the final category, nutrient intake, information was taken only from students with parental consent. Dallas Independent School District The THI created four hypotheses that they used in their research for each school. The first hypothesis states that BIC schools will perform better academically than non- BIC school. When tested, BIC students performed much better on the reading and math portions of the STAAR exam than did non- BIC students. However, only in the school year was there a statistically significant difference in the number of students that satisfactorily met the requirements of the STAAR test. In testing the second hypothesis, that BIC schools will have fewer behavioral barriers than non- BIC schools, there was little difference in the number of referrals between the two sets of students. It is important to note that the overall number of referrals was low in general. It was projected that BIC schools would have better attendance results as an outcome of implementing the program. However BIC students and non- BIC students did not appear to have significant differences in absenteeism or tardies. The exception to this statement appeared in the school year, where BIC students were tardy less often. There were also no significant differences between students when absenteeism was broken down to look for chronic absenteeism. The final hypothesis was that students in BIC schools would have higher quality nutrient intakes than students at non- BIC schools. When looking at the subset of students that participated in the nutritional analysis, results suggest that BIC students exceeded their non- BIC peers in consuming more of seven key vitamins and more vegetables. When looking specifically at just a student s breakfast meal, BIC students had a higher intake of nine important vitamins. Furthermore, more BIC students in general were able to meet the EAR requirements of five key vitamins and minerals. THI also looked at the differences in nutrient intake by comparing milk nondrinkers to milk drinkers. Milk drinkers are broken into two groups: flavored- milk drinkers and combination- milk drinkers, meaning they flip between plain and flavored. More milk drinkers were found in schools that offered the BIC program, and most of these BIC students were flavored and combination- milk drinkers. Students that participated in regular school lunches were more likely to be plain- milk drinkers when compared to BIC students, although many were also flavored- milk drinkers. The results from this category found that there were significant differences in four areas: vitamins A, B- 12, D, and calcium intake. Milk nondrinkers clearly lacked the same intake of these nutrients when compared to milk- drinkers. Further, flavored- milk drinkers had more vitamin D than plain- milk drinkers.
5 Little Rock School District The same basic hypotheses were used in the research conducted in the Little Rock School District, with the exception of the fourth hypothesis looking at the student s body mass index (BMI) instead of their nutritional intake. The findings in Little Rock were not, however, consistent with those in the Dallas school districts. When looking at the academic performance between BIC and non- BIC students, non- BIC students scored a higher mean percentile score in language and math both school years. Furthermore, in both school years more BIC students scored in the Below Basic and Basic standards category in their Benchmark exams. Additionally, non- BIC students more frequently scored a Proficient or Advanced score on the same tests. The data collected on students attendance rates led to the conclusion that there is little reason to believe there exists a correlation between BIC and attendance rates. In general, BIC students were absent and tardy more frequently than non- BIC students. Further, there were more BIC students affected by chronic absenteeism than non- BIC students. Nonetheless, three reasons led to deciding BIC and absenteeism are not significantly related. First, when looking at students attendance for the year prior to BIC being implemented, and comparing that with the first year of attendance after implementation, it was noted that the average days missed were 7.4 and 8.3 days, respectively. Of the students that met the criteria of being enrolled both years, only 15% were found to be significant at the 5% level. This first found that the significant effect on absenteeism is roughly the same in both positive and negative directions; second, the significant effect sizes are roughly the same in magnitude in either direction; and finally, the results are more than likely faulted by the misuse of statistical methods since properties deteriorate when testing rare events. Much like the Dallas school district, behavior did not seem to be affected by the implementation of a BIC program. Again, the overall mean number of referrals was low for both student groups. Finally, it was discovered that BIC students had a higher BMI. The study also created what they called a z- score, which represents the students BMI deviation from that of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention s growth chart. They were then able to compare students BMI scores with those of other students of the same age and sex in the reference population. Again, non- BIC students had a lower mean z- scores. Findings and Conclusions from THI Although the two studies had differing results, it became clear that providing a BIC program into a school will increase breakfast participation dramatically. Both
6 school districts saw a dramatic increase: the Dallas school district specifically went from 30% participation to 73%, and the Little Rock district saw a 77% participation rate. This, however, was the only confirmed advantage from implementing a BIC program. Although the Dallas school district found that their BIC students performed better academically, the Little Rock district did not. In fact, non- BIC students in this district had higher test scores and performed better overall. It was not until the THI team took two specific schools with similar socioeconomic backgrounds and demographics, and compared them, that they saw BIC students improve over their non- BIC peers. Similarly, the Dallas district noticed a lower rate of tardiness in their BIC students, but the Little Rock district noted that there was not much evidence to suggest that attendance is necessarily linked to BIC programs. Again though, when looking at just the two individually picked schools, the Little Rock district saw a decrease in chronic absenteeism. These differences do not suggest that BIC programs are not advantageous to students on a general scale. As noted in the Little Rock report, these differences simply suggest that the comparison between different breakfast programs is complex and will take further research to understand.