NJ Schools See Boost in Federal Funds for School Breakfast
New Jersey school districts are expected to receive an additional $21 million in federal funds to feed breakfast to hungry students, according to the proposed state budget.
The budget, unveiled last week by Governor Chris Christie, anticipates that New Jersey will collect $77 million in the coming fiscal year from federal reimbursements for breakfast. That represents a 38 percent increase since 2012 when school districts collected almost $56 million. The news comes as school across the country celebrate National School Breakfast Week, which encourages school communities to “take time for school breakfast.”
The federal government reimburses states based on how many meals are served to students. For years, New Jersey districts served breakfast to just a fraction of eligible students, primarily because most districts served breakfast before school – when children had not yet arrived.
Now, a growing number of districts are serving breakfast during the first few minutes of the school day, typically in the classroom. Known as “breakfast after the bell,” this approach significantly increases student participation in this critical child nutrition program.
“Not only is this great news for New Jersey students, schools and the communities they serve, it also means that New Jersey is bringing back more of the federal dollars we already send to Washington,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, co-leader of the NJ Food for Thought School Breakfast Campaign.
That campaign has brought together a coalition made up of the state’s major education and anti-hunger groups, as well as national partners, including the American Dairy Association and Council, the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Council and the Food Research Action Center.
“This partnership has resulted in a successful effort to ensure that all students begin their day with the nutrition they need to concentrate and learn,” said Adele LaTourette, executive director of the Anti-Hunger Coalition and co-leader of the campaign. “New Jersey school districts should be commended for stepping up to meet this challenge.”
LaTourette noted, however, that thousands of students from low-income families are still not receiving breakfast at school and may be starting their school day hungry.
“This is great momentum,” Zalkind added. “We can reach the finish line, as more and more school leaders realize this is a do-able way to remove a major barrier to learning – while bringing more funds into their district to feed kids.”
For more information on the campaign, go to www.njschoolbreakfast.org.
NJ Food for Thought School Breakfast Campaign Partners
Advocates for Children of New Jersey
American Dairy Association & Dairy Council, Inc.
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
Food Research and Action Center
Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association
NJ Action for Healthy Kids/AtlantiCare
NJ Anti-Hunger Coalition
NJ Association of School Administrators
NJ Catholic Conference
NJ Charter School Association
NJ Department of Agriculture
NJ Department of Education
NJ Department of Health
NJ Dietetic Association
NJ Education Association
NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids
NJ Principal and Supervisors Association
NJ School Boards Association
NJ School Nutrition Association