The number of New Jerseys children from low-income families getting breakfast at school has increased significantly in recent years, according to a new report released today. Advocates for Children of New Jersey’s 2nd Annual School Breakfast Report found a 21% percent increase.

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“This is great news,” says Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “We know that hungry children struggle to learn. All our efforts around education reform are in vain if students are hungry. We commend the districts that have stepped up to meet the school breakfast challenge.”

The increase in school breakfast participation from October 2010 to March 2012 means that schools are serving an estimated 5 million more meals over the course of the school year and receiving millions more in reimbursements from the federal School Breakfast Program.

In spite of the progress, just 36% of the 459,000 children eligible for free- or reduced-price breakfast actually received it in March 2012.

Zalkind says, “That leaves a lot of room for improvement.”

Read the full study here.