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New Report Shows School Breakfast Participation Continues to Grow in Washington, D.C.
D.C. Healthy Schools Act Ensures Low-Income Children Have Access to Healthy Meals at School
Washington, D.C. – January 15, 2013 – More low-income children in Washington, D.C. are starting the day with a healthy morning meal at school, according to a new national report released today, further demonstrating the positive impact of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act.
The School Breakfast Scorecard (pdf), a report released annually by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), found that D.C. served 69.5 low-income children breakfast for every 100 that received lunch during the 2011-2012 school year, which is an increase from the previous school year’s high of 64.2 students for every 100 receiving school lunch.
“Because of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act and the efforts of school officials in successfully implementing a model where all students - regardless of family income – are offered free breakfast, we are ensuring that D.C. students start the day with full stomachs and ready to learn,” said D.C. Hunger Solutions Director Alex Ashbrook. “D.C. Hunger Solutions has been proud to support the implementation of this successful Act by helping schools adopt breakfast in the classroom programs.” To support the Act, D.C. Hunger Solutions created the D.C. Healthy Schools Act website, which is dedicated to explaining its provisions and sharing best practices in implementation.
The D.C. Healthy Schools Act, passed in 2010, supported a widespread implementation of breakfast in the classroom. Serving breakfast in the classroom removes many of the barriers that prevent children from participating, and is a strategy proven to increase participation. During the 2010-2011 school year, the Act was credited in driving a 32 percent increase in D.C.’s school breakfast participation and propelling D.C. to ranking first in the nation. This year, D.C. ranks second with a ratio of 69.5:100, following New Mexico, which now ranks first, with a ratio of 70.2:100.
“I am proud to see that the Healthy Schools Act is continuing to help more low-income students have a healthy, nutritious start to their day,” said Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, who wrote and championed the Act. “As we expand the program and identify additional food service providers who can meet the nutritional standards set by the law, I look forward to the day when all District children have access to a complete breakfast.”
The Act required schools to make breakfast free to all DCPS and public charter school students and to serve free breakfast through alternative serving models after the school day begins at schools where more than 40 percent of students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.
“We are pleased to learn that D.C’s school breakfast participation has increased once again,” said State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley Jones. “Both the D.C. Healthy Schools Act and OSSE’s mission is to remove the barriers which affect student achievement, and this scorecard serves as a positive indicator of the continued progress in the District to ensure our students have access to well balanced meals.”
FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard found that school breakfast nationally hit two milestones in participation during the 2011-2012 school year, both among the number of low-income students eating breakfast at school and among the number of schools offering breakfast. For the first time nationally, more than half of all low-income students who participated in school lunch also participated in school breakfast and more than 90 percent of schools that operate the National School Lunch Program also offered the School Breakfast Program.
“There is good progress being made, but we must continue this momentum and reach even more children with school breakfast,” said Ashbrook. “We are committed to working with schools across D.C. to further improve participation rates, which will lead to healthier and hunger-free children.”
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 children with breakfast for every 100 receiving lunch as a way to gauge state progress and the costs of underparticipation in the program.