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Arkansas Makes Honor Roll for School Breakfast

Arkansas is a success story for serving breakfast at school to low-income students. "Grab-and go" options help serve more meals to more kids. Credit: USDA.
Arkansas is a success story for serving breakfast at school to low-income students. "Grab-and go" options help serve more meals to more kids. Credit: USDA.
February 19, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas is on the honor roll when it comes to serving school breakfast to low-income students.

The School Breakfast Scorecard from the Food Research and Action Center ranks Arkansas 10th best for serving first meals to nearly 170,000 children.

FRAC President Jim Weill says progress was made not just here, but across the country.

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

Arkansas schools are serving breakfast to nearly 70 percent of students who also receive free or reduced-price lunches.

Weill points out schools that tend to be most successful at feeding students are the ones that are serving breakfast in the classroom or, for older children, offering it at grab-and-go carts in the hallways.

One option that is boosting the numbers is the Community Eligibility Provision. It's a federal program that allows schools to feed all students breakfast and lunch, free of charge, if most of them are low-income.

Weill says about half of the schools that are eligible are using the program.

"The advantage of this is, it eliminates the stigma of these programs being seen as for poor kids,” he explains. “It eliminates the differential between what kids are eating. It eliminates paperwork – it's just fabulous all around to offer meals to all kids for free."

FRAC's research indicates 320,000 more children ate a healthy breakfast at school last year than the year before. Today, he says, more than 11 million children eat breakfast at school.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - AR