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NM Ranks 2nd Best on School Breakfast Report

PHOTO: A new survey ranks New Mexico among the top states for the percentage of students who benefit from the School Breakfast Program. Photo courtesy letsmove.gov
PHOTO: A new survey ranks New Mexico among the top states for the percentage of students who benefit from the School Breakfast Program. Photo courtesy letsmove.gov
February 16, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. - New Mexico ranks second best in the nation, behind West Virginia, in a survey measuring the percentage of students who are part of the School Breakfast Program.

New research from the Food Research and Action Center shows 72 percent of students eligible for the program started their day with a nutritious breakfast during the last school year.

Sonya Warwick, communications officer at the Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico, says eating breakfast is critical for student learning.

"These programs, provided through schools, ensure kids can start their day off with sustenance," Warwick says. "It helps them focus and learn while they're in the classroom."

Warwick says despite the success with the School Breakfast Program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New Mexico continues to rank first in the nation in childhood hunger. The states that did the best in the report were those where schools serve breakfast in the classroom, instead of only in the cafeteria.

Nationally, the report shows during the last school year, more than 11 million low-income children ate a healthy morning meal each day; that's an increase of 320,000 students.

FRAC President Jim Weill says his organization compares the lunch and breakfast numbers to gauge how much progress the breakfast programs are making and are seeing steady gains.

"In the 2013-2014 school year, there were 53 low-income kids eating breakfast for every hundred eating lunch, and that was up by 10 kids per hundred over a decade," says Weill. "We're making real progress, year after year."

However, he adds 48 states, excluding New Mexico, still have not made FRAC's goal of reaching at least 70 low-income children with breakfast at school for every 100 in the free lunch program.

For example, neighboring Arizona is one of those states falling short and is missing out on more than $24 million in federal School Breakfast Program funding as a result.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM