Duron Harmon of the Patriots at Commerce to celebrate school breakfast

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)  – Students at the High School of Commerce in Springfield had a lot to cheer about Wednesday: a special visitor and funding for school breakfast. New England Patriots Safety Duron Harmon came to the school to help celebrate the awarding of a $22,000 grant from the New England Dairy and Food Council.

“You can’t be a successful student or athlete without the right fuel in your system,” said New England Patriots Safety Duron Harmon. “It’s an honor to be here today meeting with these students and reinforcing the importance of healthy eating at school.”

The money is funding the Breakfast in the Classroom program, which provides nutritious meals to students while they are beginning their day at school. Many students may otherwise skip breakfast, and that may cause them trouble focusing. Patrick Roach, the Chief Financial and Operations Officer for the Springfield Public Schools, told 22News that the number of students who eat breakfast at school went from 20% to 90% after they switched to offering breakfast in the classroom, instead of at the cafeteria before school, as they had before.

“In every school we’ve implemented, we’ve seen our academic performance increase, we’ve seen tardiness go down, we’ve seen attendance go up, we see behavior issues improve and nurse visits go down,” Roach said.

At Commerce, the money has already been put to use. They have purchased a giant freezer and cooler that they use to pre-package the breakfasts the night before they are served.

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