There’s good news and bad news in the annual school breakfast scorecard issued by the Food Research and Action Committee. The good news is very good: the percentage of children eating a free or reduced price school breakfast has climbed to 53% of those eating school lunch. This is a dramatic increase from the 43% that was the case just a decade ago.
Such progress affirms the strategies employed by Share Our Strength and our many colleagues to move breakfast to the classroom, and other “after the bell” alternatives. A well-intended federal program that was under-performing is beginning to work again, rescued from indifferent politicians by parents, teachers and advocates passionate about helping their own communities.
The bad news is that states are still leaving another $900 million on the table in Washington that could be used to get school breakfast participation all the way to the goal of 70%. It’s negligence on a scale so massive that it amounts to political malpractice on the part of state and local officials, many of whom continue to be unaware that such funds are even available for their most vulnerable children.
School meals have always enjoyed bipartisan support as a sound investment in the next generation. Expanding participation is not only an anti-hunger strategy for our nation, but a “full potential” strategy to ensure our human capital, schools, and economy are strong so that America can be strong.