New Report Underscores School Breakfast Participation Critical to Combatting Childhood Hunger, Learning Loss Caused by COVID-19 in New York
New York ranked 38th on School Breakfast Scorecard
As school doors re-open in New York, school breakfast will be critical in helping combat childhood hunger and learning loss prompted by COVID-19, according to a new report by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).
FRAC’s annual School Breakfast Scorecard reveals 745,758 low-income children in New York received a free or reduced-price school breakfast on an average school day from September through February of the 2019–2020 school year, prior to school closures driven by the pandemic.
In the 2018–2019 school year, New York implemented legislation focused on building strong school breakfast programs. As a result, New York public schools with 70 percent or more students who were certified for free or reduced-price meals were required to implement breakfast after the bell models. Participation has continued to surge since then, with over 25,000 additional students eating breakfast in the 2019–2020 school year compared to the prior year—a 3.6 percent increase.
The report ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on participation in school breakfast. The Scorecard also reveals New York ranks 38th due to the significant amount of funding left on the table in the 2019–2020 school year by not reaching more eligible children with school breakfast.
If New York can reach FRAC’s benchmark of serving 70 low-income children with school breakfast for every 100 who ate school lunch, an additional 236,944 low-income child will benefit from school breakfast. States and school districts would tap into over $46.9 million in additional federal funding to support school food services and local economies.
Nationwide, FRAC’s report found that more than 12.6 million low-income children benefited from the School Breakfast Program on an average day between September through February of the 2019–2020 school year. Participation increased nationally by 1.5 percent, or nearly 186,000 students when compared to the same time period the previous school year.
COVID-19 has caused alarming spikes in childhood hunger all across the country. As students return to the classroom, school breakfast will provide a critical source for children to get the nutrition they need for their health and learning.
Action is Needed Now
Strengthening School Breakfast Program participation is critical to filling the nutrition gaps and learning loss caused by the pandemic.
- Advocates: Encourage your legislators to enact legislation that supports strong school breakfast programs and close the gap between school breakfast and lunch participation. Call on lawmakers to enact legislation that will expand breakfast after the bell programs and/or create hungry-free schools by providing free school meals to all.
- Schools and school districts: Utilize additional federal funding to support school food services and local economics, adopt a breakfast after the bell model, community eligibility (CEP) for the next school year.
- Parents: Many schools are offering free breakfasts and lunches to all students. Check with your school nutrition department to access these meals.