New Jersey schools continue to make progress in serving breakfast to more low-income children. Student participation in the federal School Breakfast Program has increased 77 percent since 2010 – the year before the launch of the New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign.
This means that nearly 105,000 more children are receiving school breakfast, pushing the state from nearly last in the nation to 19th in 2016. Not only that, but school districts have doubled the federal dollars they receive to provide breakfast, more than doubling from $47.5million in FY 2011 to an estimated $105 million in FY 2018, according to state budget figures.
Despite this progress, nearly 302,000 low-income children did not receive school breakfast in April 2016, despite being eligible and already enrolled in the program.
The problem is that many school districts continue to serve breakfast before school – when most children have not yet arrived. When districts serve breakfast before school, many students simply can’t access the meal. Time constraints, transportation, early start times and other issues prevent children and teenagers from getting to school with enough time to eat breakfast before the first bell rings.
The solution is simple: serve breakfast during the first few minutes of the school and offer the meal to all students. Known as breakfast after the bell, this approach boosts breakfast participation and ensures that all children begin their school day with the nutrition they need to concentrate and learn.
Local advocates can make a difference in their communities by convincing school officials to make this very do-able change to breakfast service. The Food for Thought Campaign, led by Advocates for Children of New Jersey and the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, encourages parents, teachers, community members and others to use the data, fact sheets, videos and other information on this website to influence change in their own backyards.