More Wisconsin Kids Participating in Breakfast Programs at School
During the 2010-2011 school year, the number of Wisconsin students eating breakfast at school increased by 10.6 percent compared to the previous year according to the School Breakfast Scorecard published by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). This increase puts Wisconsin in the top five states for increases in participation by low-income students.
Wisconsin has moved up in national ranking from 40 th to 36th in measures of low-income student participation, based on the findings of this report.
This could be due to the continued impact of the recession and the growing number of children who experience food insecurity and need the school breakfast program. It could also be in response to the hard work and outreach efforts of schools and organizations across the state that are trying to ensure that more students are starting their day off with a good breakfast.
Research in the area of child nutrition shows that children who eat breakfast demonstrate an increased ability to learn and improved behavior in the classroom. Studies have also shown that eating breakfast improves mood and decreases the risk of being overweight and improves the overall quality of a child’s diet.
In addition to the link between academics and breakfast consumption, research suggests that students who have access to school breakfast tend to have lower rates of absenteeism and tardiness. When a child can focus on the teacher and what is going on in the classroom instead of thinking about food and feeling a stomachache from hunger, they are more likely to have better academic outcomes.
While participation in the breakfast program is rising, many Wisconsin children still miss breakfast on a daily basis, due to lack of time, limited household income or because they do not have access to breakfast at school.
Despite the impressive jump in child participation in school breakfast programs, Wisconsin remains third-to-last in the nation in the number of schools that offer breakfast.
The FRAC School Breakfast Scorecard shows that Wisconsin had a 6.5 percent increase in the number of schools that adopted a school breakfast program. Although Wisconsin ranks 49tth in the nation for school participation in the program, it is among the top three states for increases in school participation.
Source: Amy Alvig, Nutrition Education and School Breakfast Initiatives Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Extension