The Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) recently released annual School Breakfast Scorecard found that more than 10.8 million children received a free or reduced-price breakfast on the average school day during the 2012-2013 school year, an increase of nearly 311,000 children from the previous year. Part of this increased participation is due to more low-income children starting the day with a healthy morning meal at school. More than half of low-income children who ate school lunch also ate school breakfast.
What strategies are responsible for this increase? Classroom breakfast is one, notes FRAC. They report that offering breakfast free of charge to all children, especially in low-income schools, as well as moving breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom after the bell, continued to yield higher participation rates.
Also playing a strong role in driving participation was the launch in seven states of Community Eligibility, a new federal provision that allows high-poverty schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students without the need for individual applications. FRAC found that in participating Community Eligibility states – D.C., Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio and West Virginia – average daily breakfast participation among low-income children increased by five percent, compared to 2.5 percent in all other states.
“FRAC’s research is showing that there are proven strategies, like breakfast in the classroom and Community Eligibility, which are leading to more children starting the day with breakfast and getting the fuel they need to succeed,” said FRAC President Jim Weill
Key Findings for School Year 2012-2013:
- This year, 10.8 million low-income children participated in school breakfast on an average day, an increase of nearly 311,000 from the previous school year.
- Nationally, 51.9 low-income children participated in school breakfast for every 100 that participated in school lunch, up from 50.4:100 in the 2011-2012 school year.
- The percentage of schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that also participate in the School Breakfast Program slightly increased to 89.8 percent, up from 88.9 percent in the previous school year.
- Widespread implementation of breakfast in the classroom—where students eat breakfast in their classroom at the start of the school day—continued to drive participation in top performing District of Columbia and New Mexico. Both jurisdictions have implemented legislation requiring high-poverty schools to offer breakfast after the bell, either through delivering breakfast to the classroom or offering meals from grab and go carts in the hallway.