Arizona ranks number 29 on the annual School Breakfast Scorecard released by the Food Research & Action Center, a national anti-hunger advocacy group.
The scorecard ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the participation of low-income children in the School Breakfast Program, and finds that 267,331 low-income children in Arizona participated in school breakfast on an average school day in 2015–16, according to a press release.
This represents a 2.8 percent increase over the previous year.
The report finds that 54 low-income children in Arizona ate school breakfast for every 100 that received free or reduced-price school lunch during the 2015 –16 school year.
This is on par with the national average of 56 low-income children eating school breakfast for every 100 who received school lunch in the 2015–16 school year, the release stated.
School breakfast participation nationally has been growing, and several strategies exist to increase it further, including the use of alternative breakfast models, such as breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go,” and second chance breakfast.
High-poverty schools can ease the path to implementing such models by adopting community eligibility, which allows eligible schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students.
Since implementation began in school districts and schools in Arizona in 2014-15 school year, community eligibility has been a key driver of school breakfast participation, the release stated.
“We are committed to increasing school breakfast participation so that more children in Arizona are starting their day with the nutrition they need to learn and thrive” said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks, a statewide anti-hunger organization, in the press release.
“School breakfast means less hunger, better health, and improved educational outcomes for our children. We will continue to work with schools across the state to improve our school breakfast participation rate so even more children can focus on learning, and not on their growling stomachs.”
FRAC’s Scorecard shows that despite an overall increase in school breakfast participation across the country, millions of low-income children are still missing out. FRAC has set an ambitious, but achievable, goal of reaching 70 low-income children with school breakfast for every 100 receiving school lunch, the release stated.
The Scottsdale Independent is available for free every Wednesday.