Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Increasing school breakfast participation

Efforts are underway around the country to ensure that all children who need it are able to get a healthy breakfast at school.  For example:

  • Efforts underway to improve participation in school breakfast program in Kansas – Kansas City Kansan, March 4, 2015 -- A number of Kansas schools will be implementing breakfast in the classroom with help from Walmart Foundation grants distributed by Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. “The benefits of children eating breakfast at school include better performance on standardized tests and better attendance records,” said Cheryl Johnson, director of child wellness and nutrition at the Kansas State Department of Education. “Additionally, children who eat breakfast are less disruptive in the classroom. It’s reassuring to know that more Kansas schoolchildren will reap the benefits of a nutritious morning meal thanks to these grant opportunities.”
  • Campaign encourages participation in school breakfast program – Statesman Journal, March 3, 2015 -- As part of National School Breakfast Week (March 2-6), Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, in partnership with the Oregon Dairy Council and the Oregon Department of Education, are encouraging school breakfast participation. The groups are sharing the number of eligible children not receiving school breakfast in the state, increasing awareness of federal support for the program, and assisting schools in implementing the federal nutrition programs. Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon noted that a FRAC study showed that school breakfast participation in the state did not increase between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
  • Bill would require ‘breakfast after the bell’ at more schools – Edsource, March 3, 2015 -- California legislation introduced by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) – Assembly Bill 1240 – would boost school breakfast participation by requiring schools to make breakfast part of the school day by serving it after the bell in the classroom or from grab-and-go carts. The proposed legislation would begin in 2016-17, be phased in over three years, and affect schools where at least 40 percent of students qualify for subsidized school meals. “The highest participation rates are in schools where students are allowed to eat breakfast in the classroom,” said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, which recently released two school breakfast reports.

This is an important conversation for all of us at GardenShare and in the communities of St. Lawrence County to engage in.  According to Hunger Solutions New York, in the 2011-12 school year, 8,188 students in St. Lawrence County were eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast at school, but only 3,526 or 43% of those eligible were taking part.  In the 2012-13 school year, the situation got worse.  A few less students were eligible - 8,092, but even fewer of them, 3,382 or 42% were eating breakfast at school.

Hunger Solutions NY has set a goal of having 70% of the children who are eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast at school actually get this meal.  If we accomplished this goal in St. Lawrence County, it would bring an additional $168,565.62 in federal reimbursements for these meals into our county!  More important, an additional 652 children would get a healthy breakfast every day of the school year!