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More Wisconsin kids participating in school breakfast

For immediate release

February 2011

More Wisconsin kids participating in school breakfast

Madison, Wis.—More students in the state are participating in school breakfast programs according to a new report.

The number of Wisconsin students eating breakfast at school increased by 14.7 percent over last 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 43rd to 40th in measures of low-income student participation, based on the findings of this report,” says Julia E. Salomón, school breakfast specialist for Cooperative Extension’s Family Living Programs.

“One factor for this rise might be the impact of the recession and the growing number of children living in poverty who need and use the school breakfast program,” says Salomón. “Another is the consistent outreach and hard work of schools and organizations across the state engaged in ensuring 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 academic performance. Studies have also shown that eating breakfast improves behavior and mood, decreases the risk of being overweight and improves the quality of a child’s diet.

In addition to the link between academic success and breakfast consumption, research suggests that students who have access to school breakfast tend to have lower rates of absenteeism and tardiness. “When students are in school more often and can focus on their lessons without thinking about food or feeling the ache of hunger, they will have a better academic outcome,” explains Salomón.

While participation in the breakfast program is on the rise, many Wisconsin children still skip breakfast on a daily basis, due to lack of time, limited household income or because they do not have access to breakfast at school.

“Close to 66 percent of schools that participate in the National School Lunch program across the state also participate in a school breakfast program. Although this is lower than the national level of about 87 percent, the number of Wisconsin schools that offer school breakfast has increased steadily in recent years,” says Salomón.

The FRAC breakfast scorecard shows that Wisconsin had a 4.9 percent increase in the number of schools that adopted a school breakfast program. Although Wisconsin ranks 50th in the nation in measures of school participation in the program, it is among the top six states for increases in school participation.

“The proven benefits of breakfast abound,” Salomón says. “We are optimistic that schools’ efforts in increasing school breakfast programs will continue to have a positive impact on the academic performance and nutritional health of all school age children in Wisconsin.”

For more information on FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard, visit http://frac.org/2010-school-breakfast-report/

For more information on Wisconsin School Breakfast programs, go to:

http://fyi.uwex.edu/wischoolbreakfast/ and

http://dpi.wi.gov/fns/sbp1.html

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