NJ Increases School Breakfast Participation

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Rising sharply from 46th last year, to 37th this year, New Jersey is serving more children from low-income families a healthy breakfast at the start of their school day, according to a national report released January 21st.

The Food Research and Action Center said that New Jersey served 45.4 percent of low-income children for every 100 who participated in school lunch in the 2012-13 school year, compared to 41 percent the  year before and 38 percent in 2010-11. New Jersey was one of only 10 states that saw a more than 5 percent increase in participation from the previous year.

This achievement is the result of a growing number of schools serving breakfast in the first few minutes of the school day, instead of the traditional method of providing breakfast before school when most children have not yet arrived. Known as “breakfast after the bell,” this approach significantly increases student participation.

The NJ Food for Thought Campaign, which was launched in September 2011 when Advocates for Children of New Jersey released its first school breakfast report, has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the issue. The campaign is now driven by a statewide committee that includes all of New Jersey’s major education groups, the state Departments of Agriculture, Health and Education, anti-hunger and health organizations and child advocates. 

In addition to raising awareness of the issue on a statewide basis, the campaign is working with school communities across the state to help them meet the logistical challenges of changing the way they serve breakfast. 

Despite the progress, New Jersey still has a way to go. If 70 percent of eligible students who eat school lunch also receive breakfast, school districts would claim about $26.6 million more in federal reimbursements – dollars that New Jersey taxpayers are already sending to Washington, D.C., according to FRAC’s report. Those funds would feed an additional 109,000 children each and every school day, the report said. 

The Report

Source: NJ Food for Thought Campaign