New Jersey saw the greatest rise in the nation this year — 13 percent — in the number of children enrolled in the federally funded School Breakfast Program, with a total participation of 226,924, according to the Food Research and Action Council.
The number of schools that offer the program is 2,008, as opposed to the 2,635 that offer federally funded school lunch programs. Although more schools are offering breakfast than in the past, Advocates for Children of New Jersey also credited the rise to convincing schools that they needed to change the way they serve breakfast.
ACNJ advocates “breakfast after the bell,” in which breakfast is served from grab-and-go carts and is consumed in the first few minutes of classroom time. Low-income children are not the only ones who consume breakfast in school that way. If a school does offer the program, families who do need meet the income guidelines can pay for it. About 15 percent of the total 266,451 get breakfast that way.
Although FRAC applauded New Jersey’s gains this year, it noted that about 300,000 low-income children could benefit from the program but do not.