Washington, D.C. Among Top in U.S. for School Breakfast Participation

D.C. Hunger Solutions Concerned District Has Slipped from Number 1 Spot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara McGovern, smcgovern@frac.org, 202-640-1089

WASHINGTON – February 16, 2016 – The District of Columbia saw a decline in school breakfast participation, but continues to be at the top of list when looking at the city’s ability to serve school breakfast to low-income children compared to states across the country, according to the annual national school breakfast report released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), but participation needs to grow to reach thousands of eligible students.

The School Breakfast Scorecard (pdf) measures the success of the School Breakfast Program at the national and state levels, including the District of Columbia. The FRAC report finds that 67 low-income children in Washington, D.C. ate school breakfast on an average day for every 100 that received free or reduced-price lunch during the 2014 – 2015 school year, placing D.C. third in the nation for feeding hungry children, but a three percent drop in participation since the 2013 – 2014 school year.

“It is encouraging that D.C. remains the top three states in breakfast participation among low-income children, but these declines are concerning,” said Beverley Wheeler, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions. “Looking forward, we must work together to ensure that the School Breakfast Program reaches all children at risk for experiencing hunger and helps them get the nutrition they need to start each school day ready to learn.”

Despite a drop in participation, Washington, D.C. continues to outstrip the national average. Nationally, 54 low-income children ate school breakfast for every 100 who also ate school lunch, an increase from the previous school year’s ratio of 53:100.

The District remains a leader in school breakfast participation, due to the widespread adoption of Community Eligibility, which allows high-poverty schools to offer free meals, and the continued positive impact of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act which required high-poverty schools to offer breakfast in the classroom or other alternative serving methods. Programs like breakfast in the classroom, or “grab and go” where children can take meals from carts or kiosks to then eat in the classroom are proven to lead to higher participation rates.

“Washington, D.C. is a leader in school breakfast. This success should be celebrated, but this year’s decline shows us that we must continue to grow participation so every child in D.C. starts the day with breakfast,” said Wheeler.

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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 70 low-income children with breakfast for every 100 receiving lunch as a way to gauge state progress and the costs of underparticipation in the program.

About D.C. Hunger Solutions:

D.C. Hunger Solutions, founded in 2002 as an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) (www.frac.org), works to create a hunger-free community and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income people in the District of Columbia. To learn more about D.C. Hunger Solutions, visit www.dchunger.org.