End Hunger Connecticut! Releases 2012 School Breakfast Report Card

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Connecticut ranks 27% behind national average for offering the School Breakfast Program. Only 61.5% of Connecticut schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program offer a school breakfast program.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For children and adults alike, it provides the necessary nutrition and energy to tackle the day’s challenges – be they at the workplace or in the classroom. Unfortunately, many of Connecticut’s children are facing an intense morning of learning on an empty stomach. A national survey, Hunger in the Classroom, conducted by Share Our Strength, reveals three out of five teachers have children in their classrooms that regularly come to school hungry.

Despite the fact that 35 more Connecticut schools began offering a school breakfast program in 2011, as reported in End Hunger Connecticut!’s 2012 School Breakfast Report Card released this week, Connecticut still falls nearly 27% behind the national average for the number of schools offering the School Breakfast Program (SBP). School Districts with the highest school breakfast participation within their District Reference Group (DRG) include Bridgeport, Hampton, Norwich, Old Saybrook, Pomfret, Putnam, Sterling, and West Hartford.

The SBP is federally funded and gives schools the ability to provide nutritious, free or reduced-price breakfast to all students. According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), only 61.5% of the Connecticut schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) also participate in the SBP, earning CT the unenviable ranking of last in the nation (51st, including D.C.) for the seventh consecutive year. Yet, the need for the School Breakfast Program cannot be stressed enough with 95% of teachers surveyed for Hunger in the Classroom crediting School Breakfast as increasing students’ concentration, 89% crediting it as leading to better academic performance, and 73% crediting it as leading to better behavior in the classroom. In addition to the multitude of benefits to the students, CT schools are also missing out on the opportunity for the SBP to bring federal dollars directly into CT’s schools by not taking advantage of the program.

“The School Breakfast Program is a vitally important resource for all families, and can be particularly helpful in financially difficult times when more and more families are having a tough time making ends meet,” Dawn Crayco, Deputy Director, End Hunger Connecticut!, said. “There is a perception that hunger isn’t a problem in more affluent states, such as Connecticut. In reality, 19% of households with children in Connecticut suffer from food hardship and have difficulty affording enough food for their families.”

In addition to a deficit in the number of schools offering the SBP, many of the Connecticut schools that do offer a SBP have participation rates significantly lower than the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price school meals. This predicament inspired Governor Dannel P. Malloy to issue the CT School Breakfast Challenge to encourage all CT school districts to increase student participation in the School Breakfast Program. End Hunger Connecticut! and the CT No Kid Hungry campaign, a partnership of End Hunger CT! and Share Our Strength strategically working together to end childhood hunger in the state, are backing-up the School Breakfast Challenge with private funds to be awarded directly to the winning school districts.

To learn more about setting up a SBP at your school or for insight on how to increase participation, visit: http://www.ctschoolbreakfast.org.

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About End Hunger Connecticut!
End Hunger Connecticut! is a statewide anti-hunger and food security organization. By focusing on advocacy, outreach, education and research, EHC! serves as a comprehensive anti-hunger resource for community organizations, legislators, and low-income families. To learn more, visit: http://www.endhungerct.org.

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Danielle Cyr
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