(Jackson, Miss.) – Mississippi ranks No. 17 on the annual School Breakfast Scorecard released this past week by the national anti-hunger advocacy group Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). The scorecard ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the participation of low-income children in the School Breakfast Program, and finds that 188,976 low-income children in Mississippi participated in school breakfast on an average school day in 2015–2016. This represents a 0.7 percent increase over the previous year.
The national School Breakfast Program makes it possible for all school children in the U.S. to receive a nutritious breakfast every school day.
The report finds that 58.7 low-income children in Mississippi ate school breakfast for every 100 that received free or reduced-price school lunch during the 2015–2016 school year. This is above the national average of 56 low-income children eating school breakfast for every 100 who received school lunch in the 2015–2016 school year.
School breakfast participation nationally has been growing, and several strategies exist to increase it further, including the use of alternative breakfast models, such as breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go,” and second chance breakfast.
The Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, a consortium of nutrition and education organizations, including the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ), Mississippi Association of Educators (MAE) and Mississippi Association of School Administrators (MASA) are working to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program through the implementation of alternative service models across the state. Grant funding and technical assistance are available to help high-need schools in Mississippi to implement these programs.
“We believe every child needs to start the day ready to learn, and there is no better preparation than a healthy breakfast. Eating breakfast with peers in the classroom allows Mississippi’s students to establish a lifelong habit of starting the day with a nutritious meal, which will enable them to lead healthy, productive lives,” said Beth Orlansky, advocacy director for the Mississippi Center for Justice.
High-poverty schools can ease the path to implementing such models by adopting community eligibility, which allows eligible schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students. Since implementation began in school districts and schools in Mississippi, community eligibility has been a key driver of school breakfast participation.
“We must be vigilant about removing barriers to learning, and through this partnership we are working to remove one of the major barriers to students’ success: hunger. The sad fact is that too many of our children go to school hungry,” said MAE President, Joyce Helmick. “Our goal is to increase breakfast participation rates while improving students’ educational outcomes through MAE’s work with our partners, educators, nutrition experts, and the community.”
“MASA is excited to be a part of this unique opportunity. I believe that this is the first time we’ve been involved in a partnership where we can have a direct and positive impact at the school and classroom level,” said Dr. Lisa Karmacharya, executive director of MASA. “We are deeply committed to supporting our school leaders from the superintendents to the principal and appreciate the opportunity to do so through this grant. We know that school breakfast means less hunger, better health, and improved educational outcomes for our children and we will continue to work with schools across the state to improve our school breakfast participation rate so even more children can focus on learning”
FRAC’s Scorecard shows that despite an overall increase in school breakfast participation across the country, millions of low-income children are still missing out. FRAC has set an ambitious, but achievable, goal of reaching 70 low-income children with school breakfast for every 100 receiving school lunch.
About the School Breakfast Scorecard
This report measures the reach of the School Breakfast Program in the 2015–2016 school year — nationally and in each state — based on a variety of metrics, and examines the impact of select trends and policies on program participation. On an average school day, 12.1 million low-income children participated in the School Breakfast Program in school year 2015–2016. Participation among low-income children increased by just over 433,000 students, or 3.7 percent, over the previous school year. Read the School Breakfast Scorecard in full.
About School Breakfast: Making it Work in Large School Districts
This report examines School Breakfast Program participation rates and trends in 73 of America’s largest school districts. These districts saw a net increase of 101,548 students eating school breakfast in school year 2015–2016, compared to the prior school year. Two-thirds of the districts expanded their school breakfast participation from the previous school year. Read School Breakfast: Making it Work in Large School Districts in full.
The Mississippi Center for Justice is a nonprofit, public interest law firm committed to advancing racial and economic justice. Supported and staffed by attorneys, community leaders and volunteers, the Center develops and pursues strategies to combat discrimination and poverty statewide.
Since 1878, MAE has been an advocate for great public schools for every student. The Mississippi Association of Educators continues to focus on student achievement and student success while empowering school employees, providing quality services, and promoting parental/community involvement. The Mississippi Association of Educators is a state affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA)–the nation’s largest professional employee association.
The Mississippi Association of School Administrators (MASA) is the oldest educational organization in Mississippi serving Superintendents & school administrators across our great state. MASA is proud to be the state affiliate for AASA, The American Association of School Administrators, The School Superintendent’s Association. Additional information available at msasa.org