Missouri made progress in reaching more low-income children with school breakfast, as it served nearly 54 low-income children breakfast for each 100 who received lunch during the 2011-2012 school year, according to a new national report released today. An increase from the previous school year when a ratio of 51:100 received breakfast, this progress lays the groundwork for Missouri school districts to make additional gains in the number of children eating a nutritious breakfast each day.
Such increases improve school attendance and student behavior, boost learning and test scores, and improve student health. “This progress should be celebrated, but even more important is sustaining momentum and reaching all hungry children who need school breakfast,” said Jeanette Mott Oxford, executive director of Missouri Association for Social Welfare (MASW).
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. The FRAC report found that school breakfast nationally hit two milestones in participation during the 2011-2012 school year:
• The number of low-income students eating breakfast at school
• The number of schools offering breakfast
For the first time nationally, more than half of all low-income students who participated in school lunch also participated in school breakfast. Additionally more than 90 percent of schools that operate the National School Lunch Program also offered the School Breakfast Program.
Such milestones, noted the FRAC report, were largely driven by efforts at the federal, state, and local level to eliminate barriers, streamline administrative processes, and adopt new “in-classroom” breakfast strategies. Overall, more than 10.5 million children received a free or reduced-price breakfast each school day during the 2011-2012 school year, an increase of 738,869 children from the previous year.
“When schools fail to participate effectively, hungry children miss meals and Missouri misses federal dollars,” said Oxford. “Increasing participation so that 70 Missouri children have school breakfast for every 100 who also eat lunch would lead to an additional 62,544 low-income Missouri children eating breakfast each day. And Missouri would also qualify for an additional $15 million in child nutrition funding.”
Nationally, reaching the 70:100 goal would lead to an additional 4.1 million low-income children being added to the breakfast program and states would have received more than $1 billion in added child nutrition funding.
“One of the most effective ways to increase participation is to serve breakfast in the classroom, and we encourage more schools to move to this model,” said Oxford. “We applaud the outreach that the MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been doing regarding school breakfast, and we encourage every school district in Missouri to examine its breakfast program. We can reach even more children with a healthy morning meal, and that will benefit all Missourians in the long term.”
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 70 children with breakfast for every 100 receiving lunch as a way to gauge state progress and the costs of under participation in the program.
MASW (www.masw.org), founded in 1901, provides leadership, research, education, and advocacy to improve public policy and programs impacting the health and welfare of all Missourians. MASW played major roles in the initiation of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, the reduction of sales tax on food by three cents, development of the Missouri Housing Trust Fund, and lawsuits leading to the creation of the Missouri Foundation for Health and provision of non-emergency transportation to Medicaid clients, plus many other social justice victories.