NJ Jumps to 37th Nationally for School Breakfast

February 5, 2014

Good news!  Our friends and partners at Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) report that, “after being nearly last in the nation for years, New Jersey jumped to 37th place for serving more children from low-income families a healthy breakfast at the start of their school day, according to a [new] national report. Last year, New Jersey ranked 46th.”

Here’s how the numbers break down:

In the 2010-11 school year, about 38 percent of New Jersey students from low-income families who participated in school lunch also received breakfast at school.  In the 2011-12 year, that number jumped to 41 percent, and in the 2012-13 it hit 45 percent.  Remarkably, New Jersey was one of only 10 states that saw its percentage increase in school breakfast programming top 5 percent.

So what’s the reason?  Well, aside from the NJ Food for Thought Campaign (of which the Community Foundation is a member), experts attribute the positive numbers to a new focus on providing breakfasts just after the morning bell.  Whereas breakfast had traditionally been served before the bell, shifting the meal to just a few minutes after the bell has proven to be a lot more effective, since more students are in the classroom by that time.

Despite this good news, there is still a lot of work to be done.  According to ACNJ:

If 70 percent of eligible students who eat school lunch also receive breakfast, school districts would claim about $26.6 million more in federal reimbursements – dollars that New Jersey taxpayers are already sending to Washington, D.C., according to FRAC’s report. Those funds would feed an additional 109,000 children each and every school day, the report said. According to Advocates for Children of New Jersey’s annual school breakfast report, released in October 2013, roughly 300,000 children eligible for free- or reduced-price school breakfast were still not receiving it as of March 2013.

To support school breakfast programming in your community, contact Hans Dekker at hdekker@cfnj.org or 973-367-5533.