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October 15, 2015
For Immediate Release
Breakfast After the Bell Feeds More NJ Students
A growing number of New Jersey schools are serving breakfast during the first few minutes of the day and, as a result, have achieved a 75 percent increase in the number of low-income students eating this all-important morning meal, according to the 5th Annual NJ School Breakfast Report, released today by Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) and the NJ Food for Thought Campaign.
ACNJ also released data for every school district with at least 20 percent of students eligible for free- and reduced-priced school meals. State law requires these districts to provide school breakfast. Find local data here.
The switch to serving breakfast during the first few minutes of the school day is fueling the rise in school breakfast participation. For years, nearly all New Jersey schools served breakfast before school – when children have not yet arrived. Over the past five years, more schools have switched to serving breakfast during the first few minutes of the school day. Known as “breakfast after the bell,” this approach significantly boosts student participation in the federal School Breakfast Program.
Jersey City Superintendent Marcia Lyles said the students are benefiting from having breakfast each morning and that many of their educators have expressed strong support for the program.
“The students are more focused and ready to learn,” Lyles said. “Initially, there were concerns that the program would be disruptive. However, our talented and dedicated staff found ways to make it work for children. As a district, we have systems in place that are running smoothly. Everyone is working together to ensure that all of our students have the nutrition they need to succeed in school.”
Despite this tremendous progress, there is much work to do, Zalkind said. Nearly 300,000 children are still missing out on school breakfast, primarily because a growing number of students are eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals and school officials in some high-poverty districts have yet to embrace breakfast after the bell.
Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) works with local, state and federal leaders to identify and implement changes that will benefit New Jersey’s children. www.acnj.org
The NJ Food for Thought Campaign is driven by a statewide coalition that includes New Jersey anti-hunger, education and health organizations, the New Jersey Departments of Agriculture, Education and Health and child advocates. The Food Research Action Center, the American Dairy Association and Council and the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Council are the campaign’s national partners.