Students at Alisa Vinson’s kindergarten class at Cascade Elementary School grab breakfast in their classroom. The breakfast program at Cascade ensures every student in the school eats breakfast in their classroom. Photos by Leah Abraham

Students at Alisa Vinson’s kindergarten class at Cascade Elementary School grab breakfast in their classroom. The breakfast program at Cascade ensures every student in the school eats breakfast in their classroom. Photos by Leah Abraham

Cascade Elementary School wins national award for breakfast program

The program ensures every student in the school eats breakfast in their classroom.

As the bell rings at 8:30 a.m. ,students at Cascade Elementary School scurry into their classroom.

First item on the agenda: eat breakfast.

Cascade Elementary is the first school in the district to pioneer a program that ensures every student in the school eats breakfast in their classroom.

The program, made possible by funding through United Way of King County, was recently recognized in the 2018 Breakfast Hero contest, held by the national anti-hunger campaign No Kid Hungry.

The school was one of five winners nationwide.

“I was surprised, but also excited. It’s neat to be recognized for doing something that meets the needs for all of our kids,” said Principal Rachel Lockhart. “It’s really the partnership between United Way, the nutrition services department in the district and the willingness of our school staff to create the program and be able to implement it.”

“This amazing group of people, each with a different role at the school and in the district, worked highly collaboratively with us to build out a Breakfast in the Classroom model,” said Ayako Shapiro with United Way of King County, in a press release. “They brought excitement, enthusiasm, and a willingness to try new things and problem solve together every day. So many more students are now accessing breakfast as a result of all of their hard work.”

According to No Kid Hungry, one in every five kids in Washington face hunger. At Cascade Elementary, 65 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced price meals.

United Way, along with various partners Representative Zack Hudgins, developed a coalition project called Breakfast After The Bell in 2013 to ensure all kids start their day with a nutritious meal. Washington state ranks 44th in the nation in school breakfast participation. On March 7, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law House Bill 1508, which promotes “student health and readiness through meal and nutrition programs.”

Cascade Elementary School was the first school to pilot the Breakfast After The Bell program. Funding from United Ways was used to purchase pick-up carts, containers, and other materials.

The program was launched in March. Before the program began, Kitchen Manager Jackie Hood said she was serving breakfast to about 100 students in the cafeteria. Now she makes breakfast for about 400 students daily.

“(My students) have more energy,” said kindergarten teacher Alisa Vinson. “Breakfast has helped give them the extra boost.”

The food is prepared, packaged and delivered to the classrooms by volunteers where every student, even students who do not qualify for free or reduced price meals, have breakfast at no cost.

“Now there’s (breakfast) for everybody and they can access it for free,” said Lockhart. “It establishes a nutritious breakfast for everyone, but also a sense of community. It’s something everyone is doing together each and every day. In the classroom, it’s how they’re starting the day together.”

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

city of renton city hall
Renton proposes six month deadline to remove hundreds staying at Red Lion Inn COVID-19 shelter

As a result of the fight over the county’s de-intensification shelter, which provides housing for homeless people during the COVID-19 pandemic and caused an increase in public safety services in the spring, Renton is introducing code to create stricter guidelines for all homeless shelters

File photo
Snow Lake, located near Snoqualmie Pass in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington releases new forest plan

It outlines ways the state will protect and maintain forest health.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. August 2018, when several district unions, including Renton Education Association, bargained for new salaries in response to the McCleary decision.
Renton teachers union files labor complaint against district

The REA claims district is failing to address health and safety guidelines; district says it continues to work with unions to provide safe and healthy environment

Crime web teaser.
Renton man stabs, kills 11-year-old brother

The man chased his brother down the street in broad daylight, attacked him on the sidewalk.

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of
King County Council passes $12.59 billion biennial budget

King County Council on Nov. 17 passed a $12.59 billion biennial budget… Continue reading

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Boeing employees check on some of the parked MAX planes at the Renton plant where they are assembled, Spring 2019.
FAA rescinds grounding of Renton-made 737 MAX

The news is good for Renton, as possible job losses continue to loom over the local Boeing factory as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

State Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) authored the letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. Mullet represents the 5th Legislative District. File photo
Democratic lawmakers ask Inslee to lift ban on indoor dining

They want to try to scaling back on occupancy before forcing an end to inside service.

Tim Eyman get in some last minute campaigning for I-976 in downtown Bellevue on the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2019. File photo
Eyman fights allegation he repeatedly broke campaign laws

In a lawsuit, the state accuses the prolific initiative promoter of getting kickbacks.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant. File photo
State halts indoor service at bars, restaurants, home guests

Amid soaring new coronavirus cases and an overburdened health care system, the state’s clamping down.

Most Read