March 7-11 is National School Breakfast Week and March is National Nutrition Month, so of course we celebrate school breakfast and the nutrition benefits it provides to fuel greatness in students every day.
The impact of school breakfast is emphasized in the Food Research & Action Center’s School Breakfast Scorecard: 2014-2015 School Year and a companion report, School Breakfast: Making it Work in Large School Districts. We should celebrate the continued growth in participation where:
- 11.7 million low-income children (i.e., those certified for free/reduced-priced school meals) participated in school breakfast on an average day, which translates to 475,000 more participating each day than the previous school year -- an increase of 4.2 percent)
- 54.3 low-income children participated in school breakfast for every 100 participating in school lunch, up from 53.2 to 100 in the previous school year
- Among 73 of America’s largest school districts, 50 showed gains in participation, with 23 being recognized as top performers, because they served school breakfast to at least 70 low-income students for every 100 who ate school lunch
- Increases were attributed to adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision (i.e., offering breakfast and lunch at no charge) and implementing alternative serving models, such as Grab ‘n Go, Breakfast in the Classroom or Second Change Breakfast
Plus, here’s some great news that can help continue to make an impact: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Dairy Council, National Football League and the GENYOUth Foundation recently announced $35 million in school nutrition equipment grants. Schools wanting to adopt or expand breakfast serving models, can apply for funds for Grab ‘n Go carts, smoothie machines and coolers to prepare and serve foods that meet nutrition guidelines and that kids want to eat. Schools can also engage their Fuel Up to Play 60 student teams to implement the Breakfast – Anytime, Anywhere play to increase participation.
What can you do?
- Eat school breakfast with your children or grandchildren
- Support the expansion to alternative serving methods, such as Breakfast in the Classroom
- Adopt the Community Eligibility Provision, if your school qualifies
- Apply for funds to expand breakfast programs from the $35 million in equipment grants
- Celebrate that nutritious and delicious meals are available every day at school for breakfast and lunch for students