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Why Aren’t More Schools Serving Breakfast To Kids? [AUDIO]

New Jersey school districts would serve free breakfast to low-income children it they knew it wouldn’t cost them anything, right?

Flickr User USDAgov

Wrong, says one long-time child advocate. Federal dollars are available to support the program, but most schools aren’t taking advantage of that fact.

“We’re among the best in serving free school lunch to low-income kids, but we are at rock bottom for school breakfast,” explains Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “We’re 49th in the country.”

Zalkind says this doesn’t have to be the case. There is an easy and free fix.

“Not only could we serve more children, but it would not cost the state a dime,” says Zalkind. “It’s drawing down federal dollars that are there for us to support this….Not only is the money there, but districts are leaving the money on the table by not drawing down from the federal government to pay for it.”

Last week, the 2012 KIDS COUNT data book was released. New Jersey ranks 19th for the economic well-being of its children and families showing that growing and persistent poverty is hurting children across the state.

“If families are struggling to put food on the table kids go to school hungry and that impacts their grades because they can’t pay attention,” says Zalkind.

Zalkind doesn’t understand why more schools aren’t taking the federal money to provide free breakfast. She says, “We have never been involved in a campaign that to me is such a no-brainer.”

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