March 2, 2016
Reporter: End Hunger CT!
Source: Hartford Courant
Hartford, Conn. (February 16, 2016) – Two report cards released today highlight Connecticut’s success reaching students with breakfast at school. End Hunger Connecticut! announced an additional 62 schools began offering school breakfast and 4,000 additional students ate breakfast at school each day during the past school year. The School Breakfast Program is a federal nutrition program administered by the USDA.
The 2016 School Breakfast Scorecard, an annual report released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), shows Connecticut moved from last in the nation for the percentage of schools serving breakfast to 47th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia. CT’s school breakfast participation grew at a stronger pace than the national average over the past five years. Eighty point six percent, or 866, of Connecticut schools participating in the National School Lunch Program also participated in the School Breakfast Program in School Year 2014-2015.
“For 10 years we’ve been pushing to break that barrier. We were able to move the needle through a concerted effort with our state leaders, school, and community advocates coming together to feed our kids,” Lucy Nolan, End Hunger Connecticut! Executive Director, said. “School Breakfast is a win-win. The more students participate, the better they do in school and the more federal dollars we capture here in CT. We’ve made a difference for tens of thousands of Connecticut kids, but we know there is more work to do; it’s critical that we don’t stop here.”
“This Administration has made historic investments in education so that every student leaves school with a strong academic foundation. That more Connecticut schools are participating in the federal school breakfast program is good news-children learn better when they have breakfast-but it also highlights how much work we have yet to do to ensure all children have this option. It’s fundamental to success in school and preparing our future workforce,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman.
Today also marks the release of End Hunger CT!’s 2016 CT School Breakfast Report Card. The report shows school breakfast participation by district, federal funding received, and projections of funding districts could receive if more children eat breakfast at school. Guidance and resources are highlighted to support operating a successful school breakfast program.
Forty-seven point eight percent of the Connecticut students who eat free and reduced price lunches at school also eat breakfast at school. Connecticut leaves more than $23 million in federal funding on the table by not serving breakfast to every child who is eating a free or reduced price school lunch. End Hunger CT! estimates that every dollar spent increasing participation brings $34 in federal funds to Connecticut.
The 2016 CT School Breakfast Report shows how schools can increase participation through breakfast models like “Grab ‘n Go” and “After the Bell” that make breakfast part of the school day.
“A healthy breakfast sets our students up for a successful day of learning. Students who eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast are move likely to perform well academically and have fewer behavioral challenges,” said Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell. “I urge all of our schools to serve breakfast on a daily basis and help Connecticut end childhood hunger.”
Among the State’s School Breakfast Program success stories is Old Saybrook, which has the highest school breakfast participation rates in the state among students who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. “We are very proud of our success in bringing healthy breakfast choices to our students. Our food services department, under the leadership of Maureen Nuzzo, has acted upon our district’s underlying goal to support students in whatever way possible to prepare them for learning,” said Superintendent of Old Saybrook Public Schools, Jan Perruccio.
Meriden Public Schools rolled-out Breakfast After the Bell district-wide this school year and has seen a 49 percent increase in breakfast participation as a result. Superintendent of Meriden Public Schools, Dr. Mark Benigni said, “Meriden’s staff, students, and families have embraced our breakfast program and we are proud of our students’ improved attendance and academic gains. Students shared being more alert and ready to learn and our teachers have reported better student results. I would encourage all CT Public Schools to support and expand their school breakfast programs. It is truly a win for everyone!”
For more information, see the Food Research and Action Center’s School Breakfast Scorecard and End Hunger CT!’s 2016 School Breakfast Report Card.
About End Hunger Connecticut!
End Hunger Connecticut! is a statewide anti-hunger and food security organization. By focusing on advocacy, outreach, education and research, EHC! serves as a comprehensive anti-hunger resource for community organizations, legislators, and low-income families. To learn more, visit: www.endhungerct.org.