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NJ Improves School Breakfast Distribution [AUDIO]

New Jersey has made significant progress in providing breakfast to children of low-income families at the start of their school day, according to a new report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

After being nearly last in the nation for years, and 46th in the 2011-2012 school year, New Jersey jumped to 37th in the 2012-2013 season.

School Breakfast
Flickr User USDAgov

Of the more than 400,000 low-income students who received free or reduced-price lunches, 45.4 percent also received breakfast at school. The report noted New Jersey was one of only 10 states that saw such a significant participation increase from the year prior.

Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ), said the state has experienced more success because an increasing number of districts are moving away from the traditional method of serving breakfast before the school day begins.

“Districts that have been successful do breakfast after the bell, usually in the classroom – a very easy breakfast to serve and clean up, and it reaches more kids,” Zalkind said.

Children who eat breakfast at school start the day ready to learn, according to the FRAC report, and have improved dietary intakes and reduced levels of food insecurity.

ACNJ has been a major player in the NJ Food for Thought Campaign, launched in September 2011, which focuses on New Jersey’s performance in providing school breakfast.

Despite the progress, Zalkind said, New Jersey still has a long way to go.

“If we reached serving 70 percent of eligible children, we would bring in an additional 109,000 children and over $25 million in federal funding to the state,” Zalkind said.

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