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More Kentucky Kids Starting School with a Healthy Breakfast

Over 276,000 Kentucky kids participated in the School Breakfast Program in 2017-2016. (USDA/Flickr)
Over 276,000 Kentucky kids participated in the School Breakfast Program in 2017-2016. (USDA/Flickr)
February 13, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A new report finds more low-income children in Kentucky are starting their school days with the food they need to fuel their brain.

The Food Research and Action Center's annual School Breakfast Scorecard was released today. It shows that during the 2016-2017 school year over 17,000 more Kentucky children participated in the School Breakfast Program on an average day compared to the year prior. That's a 2.8 percent increase.

The assistant director of Nutrition Services at Jefferson County Public Schools, Terina Edington, says students are better learners with a healthy breakfast.

"If your stomach is growling or your head is hurting, you're not able to concentrate," she says. "And, some of our kids that don't have breakfast will watch the clock instead of watching what their teacher's doing."

Kentucky ranks among the top-five states for both school breakfast participation and the use of the USDA's community eligibility option. That enables high-poverty schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students. Eighty-five percent of eligible schools in Kentucky have adopted the program.

Edington says community eligibility and the offering of breakfast in the classroom has helped increase the number of students participating in the School Breakfast Program. She says the district is also piloting a Second Chance Breakfast option.

"Some kids are not interested in eating that early in the morning but they do get hungry about nine o'clock," she explains. "And that's an excellent time to offer that second-chance breakfast because they may not have lunch until 12."

According to the report, 65 low-income Kentucky kids eat school breakfast for every 100 that eat free or reduced-priced lunch, higher than the national average of about 57. The Kentucky Kids Eat Coalition hopes to raise that number to 70 low-income children.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY