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Will More New Jersey Students Eat Breakfast in Class? [AUDIO]

The idea is to get more New Jersey schools participating in the federally-funded school breakfast program. A new study finds that serving the meal in the classroom after the morning bell could be the answer.

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About 300 school districts across the state participated in the survey and while 88 percent admit they offer breakfast, 68 percent offer it before the school day begins.

“We’re happy that more schools are offering breakfast, but the problem that we’re finding is that you have kids who come in the building at different times, they have different schedules and they’re not all around the same location at the same time in the morning. So, while you have a school offering breakfast, you don’t have any kids around to eat it,” said Cecelia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which is spear-heading the New Jersey Food for Thought School Breakfast Campaign. “Those districts that are really committed to breakfast have explored other, more creative alternatives. 38 percent began serving breakfast after the morning bell and so far, it’s been very successful.”

“The districts that fed children in the classroom reported fewer visits to the school nurse, less disruptive behavior in the classroom and kids were better able to concentrate,” said Zalkind. “They saw the value immediately and over the long term, that leads to academic success. A kid who can concentrate on what’s happening in class has a better chance of being successful.”

New Jersey ranks 48th in the nation for its participation in the federally-funded school breakfast program, with about 28 percent of eligible children participating. The campaign is looking to bring that participation up to at least 30 percent by next year.

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