An Oahu school aims to take a bite out of its high absenteeism rates with an expanded morning meal.
Experts say here's a fact to chew on: Fueling up with a nutritious breakfast can make a big difference for young children in school.
"If kids come to school with a good breakfast they do better in school academically and socially. They are better prepared to learn," said Linapuni Elementary School Principal Cindy Sunahara.
Almost all of the school's 232 students are eligible for free lunches and breakfasts, but many still miss the morning meal.
"We'd have kids trickling in after 7:55 a.m. and they would have to go straight to class, so they were hungry," said Sunahara.
To make sure kids eat before the learning begins, the school recently partnered up with the Hawaii Appleseed Center to start up the "Breakfast After the Bell" program.
It allows students another 15 minutes to eat, and offers other encouragement to come to the cafeteria because nutrition isn't the only thing many kids are missing.
"Attendance is a huge problem, and so is tardiness," added Sunahara.
The school is located right on the grounds of the Kuhio Park housing project, but more than a third of the students are chronically absent.
Mondays attendance normally drops, and the problem is especially bad after a three-day weekend.
One of the ways the school encourages kids to come to breakfast and to school, is giving away prizes. A half a dozen items, from art sets to Play-Doh are handed out every Monday during breakfast.
This and other efforts to increase attendance have been slowly nibbling away at the school's high chronic absentee rates. That rate dropped from 39 percent in 2012 to 36 percent last year, but those rates are still too high for many teachers and school administrators to stomach.
To encourage parent to learn about "Breakfast After the Bell," the school also holds a special meeting once a month where adults can win free meals and prizes.
The Hawaii Appleseed Center now wants to expand the program to several neighbor island schools.