SWIFTWATER, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The common phrase, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is reflected by a recent move to benefit students in Pennsylvania.

Hungry students fill the cafeteria of Pocono Mountain East High School during lunchtime.

A sight not common during breakfast hours, as school officials report only about 15% of students eat a morning meal in the district.

“We have a lot of students who do struggle with getting enough food at home and so it’s part of our job at the school to make sure that when students are here, they’re ready to learn, so we don’t want food to be a barrier,” said Tammy Toleno, the principal of Pocono Mountain East High School.

Following Governor Wolf’s announcement last month, more than 1.7 million students across the commonwealth will have access to free school breakfast starting Monday.

“Your kids want to eat, let them come in and have breakfast. It would be great if we can get a larger percent of participation in breakfast, that would be wonderful,” said Ann Marie Ohmnacht, controller of Pocono Mountain School District Business Office.

The $21 million plan will be paid for with money from last year’s school food services general fund.

Aside from the important nutrients breakfast food provides, school officials say it helps their students’ work ethic.

“It wakes up your body, it gets those blood sugar levels where they need to be, and students who eat breakfast, they are more focused, they are on task, and research shows that they’re more successful in school,” Toleno told Eyewitness News.

“It is important. All students want to be fed, all students want to eat, and I think breakfast is the most important meal of the day so I’m hoping that you know, everything works out on Monday morning,” said Tiffany Givens, the assistant director of dining service at the Pocono Mountain School District.

Pocono Mountain School officials remind parents the free program does not include lunch, but you can still sign-up to see if you qualify for a free or reduced lunch at this link.