Release: Nebraska continues to rank near bottom of U.S. in School Breakfast

***For Immediate Release***
February 13, 2020

Contact, Eric Savaiano
Senior Program Coordinator, Nebraska Appleseed
O: (402) 438-8853 ext. 126
E: esavaiano@neappleseed.org

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

Lincoln, NE — Although Nebraska still ranks near the bottom of the country in providing students in need with a nutritious breakfast, the momentum for school breakfast is growing. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)’s School Breakfast Scorecard report shows a continued upward trend in Nebraska despite a drop in ranking.

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 12 million children nationwide. According to the School Breakfast Scorecard (Table 1):

  • 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 (44.7 percent).
  • Nebraska’s school breakfast participation in 2018-19 increased by about 900 students over 2017-18, an increase of 1.5 percent.
  • West Virginia continued to rank No. 1 in the U.S. with 83 percent of students who receive free or reduced-price lunch also receiving breakfast at school.
  • Nebraska would qualify for an additional $9.5 million in federal funding if the program was offered to 70 percent of eligible children (Table 4 of the full report).

Download the full report

“Nebraska has made consistent gains in breakfast participation over the past several years. However, we have a long way to go to move up significantly in the rankings. Momentum from statewide coalitions like Go Big Breakfast and support from national partners have worked to assure more kids than ever are getting the food they need,” said Eric Savaiano, Nebraska Appleseed’s economic justice sr. program coordinator. “We encourage decision makers from state lawmakers to local education leaders to work to move more schools in our state toward higher participation. We are happy to work with schools or senators that want to explore these tools to fight hunger in their classrooms.”

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 families. Also, alternative breakfast models like grab-and-go breakfasts or offering breakfast to students in their classrooms have been proven to increase the number of students who get the meals they need for classroom success. Find Nebraska examples at gobigbreakfast.org.

“Investing in our children today will pay off in a number of important ways in the future,” Savaiano said. “When kids are getting the meals they need, schools see better attendance and student behavior, test scores improve, as does student health. Every Nebraska student should have the food they need to learn and grow.”

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