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D.C. First in the Nation for School Breakfast Participation
Healthy Schools Act Making a Difference for Low-Income Children, Says D.C. Hunger Solutions
Washington, D.C. – January 31, 2012 – More low-income children are starting the day with school breakfast in Washington, D.C., placing the District first among states in participation, according to a new national report released today. This impressive achievement is largely due to a city-wide commitment to make school breakfast a priority, said D.C. Hunger Solutions.
The School Breakfast Scorecard (pdf), released annually by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), measures the reach of the School Breakfast Program nationally and by state. During the 2010-2011 school year, 64 low-income Washington, D.C. children ate breakfast for every 100 that also ate lunch – a 32 percent increase from the prior school year when only 48 out of 100 were reached. This increase moved D.C. from ranking 20th to ranking first in the nation, and put breakfast in the hands of an additional 5,776 low-income children and teens each day.
The District’s successful implementation of the Healthy Schools Act, passed in May 2010, is largely credited with driving the increase in breakfast participation. The Act supported a widespread implementation of breakfast in the classroom.
“Breakfast in the classroom works. More D.C. students are starting the day with a healthy morning meal, ensuring they are fueled up for a day of learning,” said D.C. Hunger Solutions Director Alex Ashbrook. “This leap in the number of children eating breakfast is a testimony to the leadership displayed by the D.C. Council in passing this extraordinary bill and the commitment of school officials to making it a success.”
“I am very pleased that the Healthy Schools Act is helping so many more low-income students to have a healthy, nutritious start to their day,” said Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, who authored the law.
“As students begin their school day, a healthy breakfast is the first way for our students to be successful in the classroom,” said Hosanna Mahaley, State Superintendent of Education.
To aid in the implementation of the Act, D.C. Hunger Solutions – in partnership with the D.C. Farm to School Network and the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Wellness and Nutrition Services – hosted workshops for school administrators and staff to acquaint them with the Healthy Schools Act. With its “Free Breakfast – That’s What’s Up” Campaign, D.C. Hunger Solutions provided schools with posters, magnets, lawn signs, and other promotional materials to encourage students to participate in free school breakfast. It also launched a website dedicated to the Act, providing details on the legislation and highlighting successful ways schools are implementing its provisions.
On February 21st, D.C. Hunger Solutions and Councilmember Mary Cheh, the key sponsor of the Healthy Schools Act, will host “Breakfast in the Council” to celebrate the District’s school breakfast program. The event will feature a ceremonial resolution, school breakfast served to the Council, and remarks on the importance of breakfast as a health and academic intervention.
“We knew this Act would poise D.C. to become a national leader, and we’re proud to be number one in the nation for serving breakfast to low-income children,” said Ashbrook. “Still, we’re only reaching 64 low-income children with breakfast out of 100 who eat lunch. We’ve made great progress, and we’re committed to working with schools across the city to reach even more children.”
Nationally, participation in the School Breakfast Program grew to include 9.8 million low-income children during the 2010-2011 school year, an increase of 354,000 low-income children over the previous school year. Since the 2007-2008 school year, when the recession began, the School Breakfast Program has grown by 18.6 percent, serving an additional 1.5 million low-income children a healthy breakfast each day.
About the report:
The full report, School Breakfast Scorecard, is available at www.frac.org. To measure the reach of the School Breakfast Program nationally and in the states, FRAC compares the number of schools and low-income children that participate in breakfast to those that participate in the National School Lunch Program. FRAC also sets a participation goal of reaching 60 children with breakfast for every 100 receiving lunch as a way to gauge state progress and the costs of underparticipation in the program.
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About the USDA Report
Since 1995, the United States Department of Agriculture, using data from surveys conducted annually by the Census Bureau, has released estimates of the number of people in households that are food insecure. Food insecure households are those that are not able to afford an adequate diet at all times in the past 12 months. The report also includes food insecurity rates for each state, but for states it uses three-year averages to give a better estimate of the number of households experiencing food insecurity. Experts agree that the Census/USDA measure of food insecurity is a conservative one, with the result that only households experiencing substantial food insecurity are so classified.