February 11, 2015
When the Community Foundation joined the NJ Food for Thought School Breakfast Campaign Committee a few years ago, we knew one thing for sure: the challenge before us was enormous.
More than 300,000 New Jersey students from low-income families would start the school day hungry, putting New Jersey at 48 of 50 states in providing breakfast for students in need. Making matters worse, since only 130,000 out of 400,000 students who met school breakfast eligibility requirements actually received the meal in 2010-2011, the state lost out on more than $22 million in federal reimbursements.
But here’s what we didn’t know.
A simple idea our fundholders and we got behind would completely transform the way New Jersey provides breakfast to children in need, and lead to our state jumping 20 spots in national rankings – higher and faster than any other state.
By sharing with individual schools the wisdom of breakfast after the bell (when students are more likely to be in class and, therefore, more likely to eat a healthy breakfast), more schools made the switch and today more students are starting the school day with a nutritious meal.
And that small change has made a huge difference. According to the Food Research and Action Center, “New Jersey’s [school breakfast] participation rate jumped nearly 13 percent from the 2012-13 to the 2013-14 school years. The state now ranks 28th in the nation for breakfast participation – up from 37th last year and 46th a few years ago. The average national increase was about 3 percent.”
To read more about this encouraging development, visit our friends, partners, and leaders in this effort at Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
Thank you to our fundholders who helped make this incredible work possible. We are deeply grateful.