Our partners at the Food Research and Action Center have released their latest School Breakfast Scorecard for school year 2016-17, just in time for National School Breakfast Week, March 5-9. While the data shows school breakfast participation continues to grow, the rate of growth has slowed which means there is plenty of room for improvement.
According to FRAC’s most recent findings, nearly 12.2 million low-income students participated in the School Breakfast Program in SY 2016-17, representing an increase of 0.6 percent from the previous year. While the slower growth rate could be attributed to factors such as an improved economy, participation is still on the rise thanks to:
- Moving breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom;
- Participation in the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows schools to serve breakfast and lunch at no charge to students;
- Statewide Breakfast After the Bell legislation.
Over the last ten years 4.1 million more low-income students have received school breakfast, which is linked to a variety of positive outcomes, including:
- Improved dietary intake
- Reduced food insecurity
- Better test scores
- Improved student health
- Fewer distractions throughout the morning
When schools expand their breakfast program through the implementation of one or more new strategies like BIC and/or CEP, there are several factors that help support a successful outcome: Strong leadership within the district, a diverse and engaged coalition of stakeholders (state agency, school nutrition department, anti-hunger and health partners, et al.), staff engagement and training on sharing the positive benefits of school breakfast, and strong overall communications and transparency.
FRAC’s goal is ambitious—70 low-income students eating breakfast for every 100 who eat school lunch is a high bar, but it’s not unreachable and schools have plenty of motivation to try; meeting that number would yield 2.9 million more kids participating per year, which would help states and districts take advantage of an additional $803.7 million in federal funding.
So where do we come in? The Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom grant is available to schools and districts in ten states; funds help offset costs associated with the startup of a BIC program. High need schools in our ten target states — Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah – can learn more about our grant by visiting the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom website. Here’s how our ten target states ranked on the latest School Breakfast Scorecard:
- Idaho dropped to #22, down from #13 the previous year
- Louisiana was #25, down from #22
- Mississippi showed improvement, moving up one spot to #16
- Missouri dropped three spots, from #14 to #17
- North Carolina jumped up one spot to #24 down
- Nebraska remained at #48
- Ohio dropped one spot, to #27
- Oklahoma slipped five spots from #18 to #23
- Texas slipped two spots, from #8 to #10
- Utah remains last in school breakfast participation, in the #51 spot
FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard and Large District Report can help you put together compelling data to promote your school breakfast program for National School Breakfast Week—and all year long. Don’t forget to visit the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom website for tools and resources, and our BeyondBreakfast.org archives for stakeholder stories, behind-the-scenes BIC photos, and more.