Everyone agrees that children need to start their school day with a full stomach. After years of being nearly last in the nation for its participation in the federal School Breakfast Program, New Jersey is showing strong improvements. The state recently moved to 37th nationally, compared to its previous ranking of 46th for student participation in this critical child nutrition program.
This progress is the result of a growing number of New Jersey districts switching to serving “breakfast after the bell,” rather than before school, when most students have not yet arrived. This approach, typically done in the classroom during the first few minutes of the school day, significantly boosts participation, giving more kids the nutritious start to the school day that can help them concentrate and learn.
Since the program is federally funded, most districts with high concentrations of low-income children can feed all students at little or no extra cost, significantly leveraging the considerable investment New Jersey makes in public education.
Led by Advocates for Children of New Jersey and the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, the Food For Thought campaign is driven by a statewide steering committee that includes New Jersey anti-hunger, education and health organizations, state agencies and child advocates. The Food Research Action Center, the American Dairy Association and Council and the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Council are the campaign’s national partners.