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Governor visits Butte school to highlight breakfast program

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BUTTE, Mont. - Over 200 students at John Fitzgerald Kennedy Elementary School in Butte now have breakfast as part of their school day.

Kennedy is one of over 70 schools in Montana participating in Breakfast After the Bell.

Gov. Steve Bullock went to Kennedy Elementary Thursday to eat and serve meals to students.

Bullock said the program is federally and privately funded and aims to help feed kids.

He said in 2014 he teamed up with the Montana No Kid Hungry AmeriCorps Program, and so far over $260,000 dollars has been raised.

Kennedy Elementary is just one example of where that money is going.

Feeding kids is something Bullock said hits home with him.

"In addition to being governor I'm a father," Bullock said. "I want to see both my kids and other kids trying to make sure that they can actually meet and fulfill potential, so they can become anything they want. I know not having food will be a hindrance to that."

Bullock said one of every five kids in Montana goes hungry, but the issue of childhood hunger is solvable.

"So many times city government and state government -- we talk about these really challenging, challenging issues," he said. "But this one's so simple. Just figure out a way to feed kids, and you'll know that you make a difference."

All Kennedy students can grab a lunch bag, fill it with breakfast options of their choice and eat it before the school bell rings.

For Curt Marthaller, the Butte-Silver Bow food service director, feeding the greatest number of kids is his main goal, and the numbers prove it.

"There's a lot of kids eating. We went from 43-percent participation last year in the school; now we're up to over 70 percent. It's just fantastic," Marthaller said.

He said with the program, kids can eat breakfast with their classmates. It's something Kennedy fourth grader Grady Foley says is an added bonus.

"I think it's just fun. We get to talk to each other in groups now," Foley said.

Marthaller tells NBC Montana on Oct. 23,West Elementary School will be the next school in Butte to have its own Breakfast After the Bell.

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