RELEASE: Nebraska lags nationally in providing School Breakfast

***For Immediate Release***NE_Appleseed_Icons_FoodSecurity-128

February 13, 2015

Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853
Mobile: (402) 840-7289
Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org

Report: Nebraska Lags Nationally in providing School Breakfast

This week, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released its School Breakfast Scorecard, an annual report that analyzes each state’s participation in the School Breakfast Program. The report reveals Nebraska ranks near the bottom nationally in providing breakfast at school, an important practice to reduce hunger and improve the health of children.

According to the Scorecard, Nebraska ranks 49th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in participation in the School Breakfast Program with fewer than 40 low-income Nebraska students receiving school breakfast per every 100 receiving free or reduced-price school lunches. This low participation also means Nebraska is forgoing more than $9 million in additional annual federal funding the state would receive if our participation rate was 70 percent or greater.

The School Breakfast Program provides a nutritious and balanced morning meal to more than 10.5 million children nationwide, which offers countless educational and health benefits to kids from families that may be struggling with food security. According to Feeding America, more than 20 percent of Nebraska children are food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal is coming from. 

“The School Breakfast Program is a proven method to ensure children are getting the food they need to be healthy and successful in school,” said James Goddard, Nebraska Appleseed Economic Justice Director. “These low participation numbers are alarming, however there are policy changes we can make right now to fight hunger and make sure our kids are getting the meals they need.”

A key, new policy to combat this problem is the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP gives schools and school districts in high-poverty areas the option to provide free school breakfast and lunch to all children, without the need for an application. CEP has been shown to dramatically increase school meals participation in other states, cut administrative costs, and reduce child hunger.

“Nebraska is currently lagging far behind other states in taking up CEP. Only a small handful of eligible school districts have chosen to participate in community eligibility to this point,” Goddard said. “But, Nebraska schools will have the option to take up CEP again in June of this year. We encourage any schools with questions about the CEP to contact Nebraska Appleseed and ensure their kids have the meals they need to succeed in the classroom.”

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About the report:

The full report, School Breakfast Scorecard, is available at www.frac.org. To measure the reach of the School Breakfast Program nationally and in the states, FRAC compares the number of schools and low-income children that participate in breakfast to those that participate in the National School Lunch Program. FRAC also sets a participation goal of reaching 70 children with breakfast for every 100 receiving lunch as a way to gauge state progress and the costs of underparticipation in the program.

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