Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Urges State and Its School Districts to Prioritize Efforts to Increase Participation
Indianapolis, IN – School breakfast fights hunger and improves nutrition, but Indiana served only 44.5 low-income children breakfast for every 100 that received lunch through the National School Lunch Program during the 2010-2011 school year, according to a new national report released this week. While an increase from the previous school year occurred, when only 43.5:100 received breakfast, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry urges the State of Indiana and school districts to continue to build on the progress being made and make increased breakfast participation a priority for this school year and next.
The School Breakfast Scorecard, released annually by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), measures the reach of the School Breakfast Program nationally and by state. With a ratio of 45.5:100, Indiana is below the national average of 48 low-income children in breakfast for every 100 in lunch, and well below the goal of reaching 60:100. If Indiana reached this goal, 67,722 more low-income children would start the day with a healthy breakfast and the state would gain an additional $16,386,381 in federal child nutrition funding. Three states – New Mexico, South Carolina and Vermont – and the District of Columbia reach at least 60 students with breakfast for every 100 eating lunch, demonstrating that this is eminently achievable.
“Breakfast is proven to boost test scores, improve attendance and participation, and help children start their day ready to learn,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “With these proven educational benefits, we need to be examining the barriers preventing participation and looking at ways to erase them.”
States and schools have been successful in boosting participation with the adoption of breakfast in the classroom programs, which allow students to eat the meal at their desks at the beginning of the school day. In fact, the three top performing states and the District of Columbia, which all surpass the 60:100 goal have numerous schools operating strong breakfast in the classroom programs.
“Serving breakfast in the classroom is the most successful way to increase participation, and we encourage more schools to move to this model,” said Bryant. “Not only does breakfast reduce hunger and improve education, but it also contributes to better nutrition. Children who participate in school breakfast eat more fruits, drink more milk, and consume a wider variety of foods than those who do not eat school breakfast or who have breakfast at home.”
Nationally, participation in the School Breakfast Program grew to include 9.8 million low-income children during the 2010-2011 school year, an increase of 354,000 low-income children over the previous school year. Since the 2007-2008 school year, when the recession began, the School Breakfast Program has grown by 18.6 percent, serving an additional 1.5 million low-income children a healthy breakfast each day.
About the report:
The full report, School Breakfast Scorecard, is available at www.frac.org. To measure the reach of the School Breakfast Program nationally and in the states, FRAC compares the number of schools and low-income children that participate in breakfast to those that participate in the National School Lunch Program. FRAC also sets a participation goal of reaching 60 children with breakfast for every 100 receiving lunch as a way to gauge state progress and the costs of underparticipation in the program.