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Participation in School Breakfast Program Low in NH
Published Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Granite State ranks second-to-last in the nation for school breakfast participation according to the annual School Breakfast Program scorecard and report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), a national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and under-nutrition in the United States.

The new FRAC report highlights federal, state and local strategies for increasing participation in the national U.S. Department of Agriculture's School Breakfast Program, which expands access to nutritious breakfast at the beginning of the school day. The report also measures the reach of the School Breakfast Program in the 2015–2016 school year, in each state, based on a variety of metrics and impact.

According to the report, 15,991 children in NH participated in the program on an average school day during the 2015-2016 school year, a 2.3 percent increase over the previous year. In the same year, 40,367 students in the state participated in the National School Free and Reduced Price (NSLP) Lunch Program.

The report also focuses on the ratio of school breakfast offered versus national lunch participation for low-income families.  In NH, there is a ratio of 41 children receiving school breakfast through the program for every 100 free and reduced-price lunch participants. The state is below the national average of 56 breakfasts for every 100 free and reduced-price lunches.

According to FRAC, if NH met the goal of reaching 70 low-income children with school breakfast for every 100 participating in school lunch, the state would be eligible to receive an additional $3.1 million in federal funding.

According to Concord nonprofit NH Hunger Solutions, formerly NH Kids Count, the state's low participation in the school breakfast program an be attributed in part to the lack of widespread implementation of alternative service models such as “grab and go,” “second chance breakfast” and the “Community Eligibility Provision,” which provides free meals to all students in schools with a high ratio of free and reduced priced lunch participants.

“Having a healthy school breakfast enables more children to start their day with the nutrition they need to learn,” says Amy Bourgault, executive director of NH Hunger Solutions.  “Students who regularly start the day with breakfast are more likely to miss fewer school days, have better concentration in school and overall better health.”

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