AUBURN, Wash. -- Students across the state are being encouraged to eat breakfast. It's part of a new initiative to help kids perform better in school.

At Washington Elementary School in Auburn, dozens of students were lined up and ready to eat. Every morning the school provides a nutricious breakfast for its 450 students. As the students go through the line, you can see them pick from a variety of fruit, protein and grains.

The school has just joined the Fuel Up First with Breakfast Challenge .

We know as educators how critical a healthy breakfast is to ensuring a productive and happy student, said principal Pauline Thomas.

The Breakfast Challenge is a new initiative from the Washington State Superintendent's office of Public Education and organizations like the Children's Alliance.

Right now we have only about one-third of the students who qualify for free breakfast and lunch actually using the program, said Superintendent Randy Dorn. With this program we are challenging school districts to improve that rate to 50% usage.

Studies and research has proven that a quality breakfast can make a difference in a student's education. Dorn believes it.

They do better academically, are better behaved, and they maintain a healthier weight, he said.

It's not just the nutrition that is improved. By increasing the use of the program, schools can qualify for federal money to help pay for the programs. Money that is critical considering the state is looking at severe budget cuts.
You know there are cuts coming down the pike, but I will do my best to save these critical programs for out students, said Dorn.

Students at Washington Elementary aren't too concerned about special sessions or federal money. They're too busy checking out orange slices and min-omelets for their early morning breakfast.

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