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Arkansas Boosts Participation in School Breakfast Program

Arkansas schools are ranked seventh in the country for the number of low-income students in the School Breakfast Program. (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)
Arkansas schools are ranked seventh in the country for the number of low-income students in the School Breakfast Program. (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)
February 21, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The annual School Breakfast Scorecard ranks Arkansas seventh in the nation for the number of low-income students who participate in both breakfast and lunch programs.

The report from the Food Research and Action Center charts the progress of its national push to increase the number of public schools that offer breakfast to kids on a daily basis.

Patty Barker, director of the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign, says this allows students who would otherwise start the school day hungry to focus on their studies and achieve more.

"School leaders and teachers, and school nurses and even counselors say adding that breakfast gives those students that boost needed to get them engaged and ready to learn," she said.

The scorecard ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on participation of low-income children in the School Breakfast Program. Barker says more than 155,000 kids regularly ate breakfast in Arkansas schools during the last school year, an increase of almost three percent over the previous year.

She says the report shows about 63 low-income children in Arkansas eat school breakfast for every 100 that receive a free or reduced-price lunch. Barker says many students come from homes where the family can't always provide regular meals.

"The food insecurity rankings fall in line with poverty rankings across the state," she explained. "We've got about one in four kids considered living in households in poverty in the state of Arkansas."

The Food Research and Action Center says since 2006, the average number of low-income children eating breakfast at school has increased significantly, but there's room for improvement. The school meal programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by state and local officials.

Mark Richardson/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - AR