HIGH PLAINS JOURNAL: Breakfast in the Classroom helps children succeed in school

March 15, 2016

Kansas Action for Children is shedding light on child hunger and elevating programs to help Kansas schools increase the number of low-income Kansas kids receiving breakfast every day. National School Breakfast Week was launched in 1989 to raise awareness of the availability of the School Breakfast Program to all children and to promote the links between eating a good breakfast, academic achievement, and healthy lifestyles.

“Nearly one in five Kansas children live in poverty, and fewer can participate in safety net programs as lawmakers continue to impose more burdens on families,” said Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO at Kansas Action for Children. “Kids in poverty are more likely to be food insecure, and studies prove that hungry children struggle to learn. Alternate breakfast models like Breakfast in the Classroom offer innovative ways to reduce the number of hungry children in Kansas.”

The annual national School Breakfast Scorecard released by the Food Research and Action Center finds that on an average school day in 2014-2015, 97,102 low-income children in Kansas participated in school breakfast. Although this is a 1.7 percent increase from the previous year, Kansas lags behind other states in its attempts to provide students with a healthy breakfast each day.

Programs such as Breakfast in the Classroom and Community Eligibility Provision can help alleviate this problem. BIC helps schools offer breakfast to students during the first hour of the day, as opposed to before school. This allows more kids to partake in the breakfast, as well as increasing attendance and performance. CEP allows schools with high percentages of low-income students provide breakfast and lunch free to their entire student body. This helps ensure students who most need access to school breakfast and lunch are not barred from the program by red tape. FRAC data shows that seven percent of the 258 eligible Kansas schools have adopted CEP.

“Good progress is being made, but too many children in Kansas are still missing out on school breakfast and its benefits for health and education,” said Cotsoradis. “Child Nutrition Reauthorization, continued expansion of Community Eligibility, which allows high-poverty schools to offer free meals, more use of breakfast in the classroom programs, and continued work at the state level all provide opportunities for policymakers, advocates, state agencies, and school districts to work together to make a good program even better for children.”

The Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom-a consortium of nutrition and education groups-have grant funds still available for schools to pursue these opportunities. For more information, contact the Food and Research Action Center or visit www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.

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