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Columbia County Observer

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Florida Report Card on School Breakfast: Progress with Room for Improvement

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Educators and physicians alike have talked for years about how children learn better when properly nourished.

A new report takes a look inside schools to see how school breakfast programs are serving low-income students. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) releases the School Breakfast Scorecard each year.

Debra Susie is the executive director for Florida Impact, part of the Florida Partnership to End Childhood Hunger. She says schools with the most success at providing breakfast to students are thinking outside of the cafeteria.

School Breakfast Score Card
Food Action Research Center

"There are ways that we can do that creatively and effectively, and they have to do with looking at breakfast relative to alternative venues or at alternative times."

Some schools are offering breakfast as students get off the bus, or after first period when more students might be interested in eating.

In Florida, all public elementary schools are required to implement a school breakfast program. In schools where 80 percent or more students receive free or reduced meals, all students are required to receive free meals to eliminate any kind of stigma attached to needing assistance.

Crystal FitzSimons, director of school and out-of-school time programs for the Food Research and Action Center, says schools benefit by getting more eligible students involved.

"One of the best ways to run a more cost-effective program is actually to increase participation, because then schools are able to benefit from the economies of scale that that creates."

Nationally, there are 10.5 million low-income children participating in the School Breakfast Program every day. Studies have shown students who are not hungry at school test better in math and reading skills.  

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Photo credit:  FRAC

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