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More Virginia Students Get Breakfast at School

PHOTO: As a hunger-fighting strategy, the number of children getting breakfast in school is rising. More than 1,900 Virginia schools now serve breakfast, according to a new national report. Photo courtesy Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.
PHOTO: As a hunger-fighting strategy, the number of children getting breakfast in school is rising. More than 1,900 Virginia schools now serve breakfast, according to a new national report. Photo courtesy Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.
February 11, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. - More Virginia students are getting breakfast in school, according to a new report, and hunger-fighting advocates say the state can do more to help boost learning.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, more of the kids who need it are gaining access to school breakfasts in Virginia and around the nation. LaTonya Reed, director of Virginia Hunger Solutions, said local schools could add strategies such as letting kids eat in class or after first period, or letting them grab a breakfast on the go.

"Really get creative," she said. "When a school breakfast is served in the classroom or served in kiosks where kids can grab their breakfasts on their way to class, school breakfast participation increases."

Statistics show that kids who eat breakfast in school have better attendance, better test scores and fewer discipline problems. As one school official put it, students can't be hungry to learn if they're just plain hungry.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, 320,000 more children nationwide ate a healthy breakfast at school last year than the year before. Today, said FRAC president Jim Weill, more than 11 million low-income kids eat breakfast at school.

"That's just hugely important," he said, "not just so kids are less hungry, but hugely important for their health, for their behavior in school, and for their ability to learn."

Virginia has more than 1,900 schools that offer breakfast, with 88 added just in the past school year. Now, Reed said, the state can work on getting more kids to take advantage of it.

"The good news," she said, "is that there are effective strategies available to make sure that all of our children have access to healthy, nutritious meals that will allow them to perform well in the classroom."

The first week in March is National School Breakfast Week.

More information is online at frac.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA