New Jersey has come a long way in a short time when it comes to providing low-income students with breakfast at school, a new report shows.

(Creatas, ThinkStock)

The state ranks 23rd in the nation right now for the school breakfast program, up from 46th five years ago. According to "The School Breakfast Scorecard," a report from The Food Research and Action Center, the Garden State's school breakfast participation rate increased 11 percent from the 2013-14 school year to the 2014-15 school year.

"There is so much research, and now personal experience right here in New Jersey, that really demonstrates the importance between adequate nutrition and learning," said Cecilia Zalkind of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

Zalkind said a child who is hungry is not going to be able to learn. She said these are the kids who are least likely to have that breakfast at home.

According to Zalkind, a lot of the improvement in New Jersey's participation rate has to do with where the breakfast is served. She says districts that reach kids do it when they serve breakfast after the first bell in the classroom. That has been the successful formula.

In addition, she said people tend to associate school breakfast with elementary school.

"I think that we should make progress to make sure that high school students get breakfast too. In a number of districts, Jersey City and Paterson to name just two, we are taking strong steps in that direction," she said.

Zalkind said there is Federal money coming to the state to help fund programs that will encourage kids to eat better, so that they can perform better academically. New Jersey still has more than 300,000 school kids who are not served by this program, she said.

"So we just have to redouble our efforts to make sure that we reach those kids too," Zalkind added.

She calls the school breakfast and lunch program an easy solution for better school performance.

 Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.