State scores 49th in helping qualified kids start the day with a healthy meal at school
LINCOLN – Nebraska ranked nearly last in the country in providing eligible kids with school breakfast according to a new national analysis released this week by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
Nebraska ranked 49th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in student participation in school breakfast for the 2014-15 school year according to FRAC’sSchool Breakfast Scorecard, an annual report that analyzes each state’s participation in the free School Breakfast Program. According to the Scorecard, only 40.8 percent of Nebraska students who participate in the free and reduced-price lunch program also participated in the school breakfast program.
Only New Hampshire (38.7 percent) and Utah (34.8 percent) ranked lower than Nebraska. The national average was 54.3 percent.
“This data shows the continuation of a very concerning trend for Nebraska schools,” Nebraska Appleseed Economic Justice Director James Goddard said. “Research shows that kids who start the day with a healthy and nutritious breakfast perform better in school, are able to concentrate better, and cause fewer classroom disruptions. When so many kids aren’t getting the food they need, it puts an enormous obstacle in their path to academic success.”
The School Breakfast Program allows more than 11 million children nationwide to have a nutritious and balanced morning meal, which provides countless educational and health benefits to kids from families that may be struggling with food security. Study after study shows that when children participate in the School Breakfast Program, it leads to improved dietary intake, reduced food insecurity, better test performance, and fewer distractions in the classroom throughout the morning.
One way to increase school breakfast participation would be for eligible Nebraska schools to adopt the Community Eligibility Provision, which provides federal funding for schools to provide meals to all students while reducing administrative costs and time.
“We encourage Nebraska schools to explore the take up the Community Eligibility Provision in order to make sure all of their students are getting the healthy meals they need,” Goddard said. “Community Eligibility would likely immediately allow Nebraska to improve in these national rankings, and more importantly, ensure students aren’t starting their school day on an empty stomach.”
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 underparticipation in the program.