ANTIOCH -- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And thanks to some state grant funding doled out this week, students at three local schools won't miss out on it.
The Antioch Unified School District received a portion of a $1 million grant to help provide nutrition to students -- the only Contra Costa district to receive funds.
About $36,000 will go to Park and Antioch middle schools, along with Marsh Elementary, to help bolster existing programs.
The money will allow the district to expand its breakfast programs and add opportunities for students to receive nutritious meals, said Stephanie Siemering, the district's director of nutrition and purchasing services.
"Studies have shown time and again that breakfast helps to increase test scores, reduce visits to the school office, be more attentive in class, and improve student behavior," she said.
The three schools will be the first where Antioch Unified will start its "Grab 'N Go" program, where students pick up breakfast from a serving cart and eat in a designated area on campus. Siemering said it would also add service times for the Second Chance breakfast program, which offers breakfast at recess for those students who missed it before school.
That program is currently at Kimball, Turner, Fremont and Mission elementaries.
Antioch's nutrition program is funded by state and federal grants, district officials said. All Antioch Unified schools have a traditional breakfast program.
All told, 82 state school sites are sharing near $1.02 million to start or expand programs for students in kindergarten through grade 12, or summer food service programs for youngsters up to age 18.
"Students too preoccupied with hunger don't learn as well as well-nourished children," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a news release Tuesday. "These grants will help ensure hungry children have access to good food all during the school day to help nourish their growing bodies and minds."
Grant recipients had to have at least 20 percent of enrolled students at a school site approved for free or reduced-price meals and meet other program eligibility criteria.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.