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School Breakfast Report Ranks Arizona 27th

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Thursday, January 23, 2014   

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Arizona is doing slightly better when it comes to getting a nutritious breakfast into the mouths of low-income students, according to the School Breakfast Scorecard released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The state is ranked 27th, two spots better than the previous year.

At the same time, there's an expanding national strategy known as "Community Eligibility," which allows high-poverty schools to offer free meals to all students. It is already increasing the number of children eating at school in the handful of states where it has been tested.

FRAC president Jim Weill said it rolls out nationwide this fall.

"It's a great new system for schools with a lot of low-income kids. They don't need individual paper or online applications anymore. They get higher federal reimbursement. That's going to give schools a whole new shot at really upping their game," Weill said.

The FRAC scorecard examined how many students receiving free or reduced-price lunches were also being served breakfast. Just under half of Arizona students receiving the lunches also participate in breakfast. The goal is to bump that to 70 percent.

Timing also counts in making sure children eat school breakfast, and it takes flexibility, Weill said, "like serving breakfast after the bell; bringing it in from the cafeteria, or for older kids, off carts in the hallways; offering it free to all students, rather than having a stigmatizing means test."

Nationally, the number of low-income students participating in school breakfasts is rising. Weill said nearly 11 million of the nation's most vulnerable children are now starting the school day with a healthy meal, an increase of almost 4 million from a decade earlier.




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