Dr. Khalid Mumin is acutely aware of the challenges many of his students face, particularly food insecurity. When he became superintendent of Reading Public Schools in 2014, he was faced with addressing student poverty, low attendance, and crumbling school infrastructure. Facing these problems head-on with a focus on whole-child support has led to success for the children in his district.
“The major pitfalls I have seen are school districts grappling with the perceptions of providing healthy options at free or reduced costs for students, not wanting to publicly address food insecurity of communities they serve, and apprehension that students may not enjoy food of great nutritional value,” explains Dr. Mumin.
“To avoid these pitfalls, the Reading School District is overt in confronting issues and barriers which manifest in communities of acute poverty. The aforementioned is addressed in our intense focus on providing equity throughout the school system, where all children have access to healthy food options, dynamic teaching and opportunities to acquire life skills, achievement and confidence in preparation to compete in an ever-changing society.”
By addressing children’s needs outside the classroom, Dr. Mumin’s district is better able to bring them into the classroom ready to learn.
“The school districts’ ability to serve nutritious foods motivates children to attend school on a regular basis,” says Dr. Mumin. “Which ultimately serves as an advantage for educators, as there is continuity of the educational programming.”
Here at American Dairy Association North East, we know introducing children to healthy school meals primes them for making healthy choices and achieving academic success for life. Dr. Mumin has seen this firsthand.
“Many of the children have the opportunity to ‘experiment’ with healthy food options in schools, where they become regular consumers, connoisseurs and advocates for healthy food options,” he explains. “This not only helps them to live healthy lives, but challenges the norms of living in poverty, where local grocers are motivated in addressing the supply and demand of providing healthy, local food options.”
Dr. Mumin is also a supporter of American Dairy Association North East’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program. He says the students love the extracurricular activities and tie ins with local dairy farmers and NFL celebrities.
“I find great joy when I speak with children, as they are partaking in healthy locally sourced options,” says Dr. Mumin. “Their curiosity is amazing, as it turns into expectations of wanting us to continually provide tasty, nutritious, healthy options on an ongoing basis.”
American Dairy Association North East would like to congratulate Dr. Khalid Mumin, Superintendent of Reading School District, for being named the 2021 Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year and for being selected as a finalist for the 2021 National Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Mumin has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to fostering the growth and success of all students in the Reading School District. His support of school nutrition programs has played a key role in preparing Reading students for academic achievement.
We asked our friends Rodney McLeod and Swoop of the Philadelphia Eagles to record a message for Dr. Mumin - check out what they had to say in the video below!
American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.