The Breakfast Program launched in September 2018 after ECV applied and secured a grant through the Princeton Area Community Foundation as part of its All Kids Thrive Initiative to reduce chronic absenteeism in the Mercer County, NJ area. All children in grades Pre-K through 12th grade can receive a free breakfast each school day, approximately 50-60 students each day served. Research supports that there is a direct correlation between students that eat breakfast and attend school. The program also provided supervision to students for parents who needed to go to work before the bus arrives. The attendance data that we have collected reflects this too as there has been decrease in chronic absenteeism in students residing in Eggerts Crossing Village since the Breakfast Program began.
Despite school closures due to the pandemic, the Breakfast Program never stopped. At first, ECV offered a Grab and Go service for families to pick up breakfast and then, as the number of COVID-19 cases increased, our dedicated staff delivered meals to them each morning. With additional funds secured, ECV was able to offer the Breakfast Program throughout the summer (it normally is only the school year) and were able to provide lunches to families who requested them during the summer. Also, through this funding, ECV was able to provide gift cards for supermarkets for those families experiencing food insecurity. This school year, ECV extended the hours of our Breakfast Program to noon to help children navigate remote learning, engage in their classrooms online and complete assignments as schools in the Lawrenceville Township Public Schools district remained closed and have just recently opened to offer a hybrid model (a mix of in-person and remote learning). Currently, we are once again providing breakfasts for children who are attending school in-person and ensuring they got on the bus safely (and wearing face masks) and continuing to provide breakfast and assistance to those who are learning virtually.