***For Immediate Release***
February 14, 2017
Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853
Mobile: (402) 840-7289
Nebraska continues to rank near bottom of U.S. in School Breakfast
State’s low participation in school breakfast means poorer outcomes for students, missed federal funding
Despite a slight increase in participation, Nebraska still ranks near the bottom of the country in providing students in need with a nutritious breakfast at school according to the School Breakfast Scorecard, released annually by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
Each year, FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard analyzes each state’s participation in the free School Breakfast Program, which provides a nutritious and balanced morning meal to more than 10.5 million children nationwide. Research shows providing breakfast leads to countless educational and health benefits to kids from families that may be struggling with food security.
According to the School Breakfast Scorecard:
- Nebraska ranks 48th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in the percentage of students receiving school breakfast who also participate in free or reduced-priced lunch (43 percent)
- Nebraska ranks ahead of only Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming in school breakfast participation.
- Nebraska’s school breakfast participation in 2015-16 increased by about 3,300 students over 2014-15, an increase of 6.6 percent.
- West Virginia continued to rank No. 1 in the U.S. with 83.9 percent of students who receive free or reduced-price lunch also receiving breakfast at school.
“It remains worrisome that year after year, Nebraska continues to rank near the bottom of the country in ensuring our children are getting the breakfast they need to learn and be healthy,” said Eric Savaiano, Nebraska Appleseed economic justice program associate. “Although we saw progress this year with a slight increase, our state must do more to improve opportunity for children by making sure they’re getting a nutritious meal to start the day.”
This low participation in Nebraska means missed meals for hungry children and missed dollars for our state. Nebraska would qualify for an additional $8.7 million in federal funding if the program was offered to 70 percent of eligible children (Table 4).
Schools can be reimbursed to explore several options when it comes to fighting classroom hunger. The Community Eligibility Provision allows eligible schools to provide meals to all students at no cost to their families. Also, alternative breakfast models like grab-and-go breakfasts or offering breakfast to students in their classrooms are starting to gain popularity across the country.
“Investing in our children pays off with a variety of future benefits,” Savaiano said. “Research shows schools see better attendance and student behavior, test scores improve, as does student health when students get breakfast at school. All students should have the food they need to learn and grow. The bottom line is Nebraska must do all we can to make sure our kids are starting the day with a healthy meal.”