Be An Advocate

February 19, 2019

FRAC’s School Breakfast Reports

Fewer NJ Kids Eating Breakfast at School Means More Hungry Children (NJ Spotlight, February 13, 2019)
According to FRAC’s recently released School Breakfast Scorecard, New Jersey has the smallest percentage of eligible schools participating in the School Breakfast Program. The state dropped in rank for that percentage from 50th to 51st (data including the District of Columbia). “We have hungry kids. We have a federal program that provides money to feed these children a healthy breakfast,” said Adele LaTourette, director of Hunger Free New Jersey. “And still, far too many New Jersey schools fail to take steps to maximize participation.” The state had improved student participation in the program, yet participation fell nearly 2 percent last year, possibly due to some districts abandoning breakfast after the bell programs. “When schools serve breakfast after the bell, participation skyrockets,” said LaTourette.

Wisconsin Trails Nation In Offering School Breakfasts (Wisconsin Public Radio, February 13, 2019)
In the 2017–18 school year, the number of Wisconsin students participating in school breakfast decreased, according to FRAC. About 52 percent of the state’s low-income students receiving free or reduced price school lunch also receive school breakfast, lower than the national average of 57 percent; FRAC advocates for all states to reach 70 percent. Often, children miss out on breakfast because the meal is served in the cafeteria before school starts. “Milwaukee Public Schools are making strides,” said Crystal FitzSimons of FRAC. “They’re offering free breakfast to all students and they actually have a significant number of schools offering breakfast in the classroom or grab and go programs.”

Hawai’i 50th for School Breakfast Participation (Maui Now, February 13, 2019)
Hawaii’s school breakfast participation ranking among all states dropped from 49th to 50th, according to FRAC. Fewer than 40 low-income Hawai’i children received school breakfast in the 2017–18 school year for every 100 that received free or reduced-price school lunch. If the state could increase ratio to 70 low-income students eating school breakfast for every 100 who eat school lunch, nearly 20,000 additional students would benefit from breakfast, according to the Hawai’i Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice. “Some schools in our state have found new, successful ways to serve breakfast to their students,” said Nicole Woo of Hawai’i Appleseed. “We strongly encourage other schools to follow their lead so that more of our children can benefit.”

Report Finds That School Breakfast Program Is Underutilized In Maine (Maine Public, February 13, 2019)
FRAC’s school breakfast report found that only 60 percent of Maine children receiving free or reduced-price school lunch also participate in school breakfast. The state is faring better than most, said Crystal FitzSimons of FRAC. “If they would implement breakfast after the bell more broadly, we think there would probably be an additional 5,000 kids who would benefit from school breakfast,” said FitzSimons.

Report Finds More Low-Income Children Start Their Day With a Healthy School Breakfast; Too Many Still Missing Out (FRAC, February 13, 2019)
More low-income children across the country are getting the nutrition they need to learn and thrive through the School Breakfast Program, according to the annual School Breakfast Scorecard, released FRAC.

Proposed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Rule

Trump’s USDA threatens food security for hard-working Americans (The Hill, February 12, 2019)
Although the president signed “a clean farm bill in December,” USDA has published a proposed rule that would impose time limits on SNAP participation for certain adults without dependents, which the farm bill did not include, writes Willie D. Francois, senior pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Pleasantville, N.J., and president of the Black Church Center for Justice and Equality, in this op-ed. FRAC notes the importance of SNAP, stating the program “lifted 3.6 million Americans out of poverty in 2016,” according to the Census Bureau, and “is nearly as effective as the Earned Income Tax Credit in lifting families above the poverty line, and far more effective than any other program in lifting families out of deep poverty.”

Government Shutdown and SNAP

Local leaders want Congress to consider food stamps ‘essential’ during shutdowns (WRAL, February 11, 2019)
Durham County commissioners in North Carolina drafted a resolution asking congressional leaders to consider making SNAP an essential service, to keep benefits flowing should there be another government shutdown. The commissioners are also encouraging other leaders across the state to draft similar resolutions.

SNAP benefits to be issued March 1 (Jamestown Sun, February 11, 2019)
SNAP benefits for March in North Dakota will be issued on their usual day, March 1, the state Department of Human Services (DHS) announced. Across the country, February SNAP benefits were issued in mid-January due to the government shutdown. More information can be found on the North Dakota DHS website.

Some people will receive March SNAP benefits early (1011 Now, February 12, 2019)
Because February’s SNAP benefits were issued early (in January) due to the government shutdown, many Nebraska residents are saying they’ve run out of those benefits halfway through February, and many are relying on local food banks until March benefits are issued. Matt Talbot Kitchen has experienced more people seeking help than usual this month. “Right now we’re okay, but these pantry shelves could be empty in two days and we’ll need to reach out for help,” said the organization’s outreach coordinator, Sara Sunderman. Nebraska will be issuing all March benefits on March 1, instead of staggering issuance between March 1 and March 5. Two or three days makes “a big difference for some folks,” said Sunderman. “When you’re in survival mode … it’s one day at a time.”

Afterschool Meals

Easing hunger pains: Waco ISD aims to offer three meals a day at every school (Waco Tribune, February 9, 2019)
While G.W. Carver Middle School in Waco, Texas, provides students with free breakfast, lunch, and afterschool meals, not all schools in the district are offering the afterschool meals. Waco school district began providing free lunch to all students this school year and has applied, through the Child and Adult Care Food Program, to offer afterschool meals at all schools. “Some of our kids, this meal at 4 o’clock is the last meal they’ll get tonight,” said Tonee Shelton, director of the Texas Afterschool Centers on Education at Carver Middle School. “For some, lunch is the last meal they’ll get.”

School Lunch

School lunch debt increases by thousands in growing Berkeley County School District (Live 5 News, February 8, 2019)
Berkeley County School District in South Carolina has seen a rise in school lunch debt over the past two years. In some cases, struggling families can be helped through free or reduced-price school meals for their children. “The circumstances our parents are in, sometimes they don’t really want to reach to us for help and they think maybe they can handle their problems,” said Linda Fairchild, the district’s director of child nutrition. She said she hopes the stigma behind free and reduced-price school meals can disappear, and encourages parents to reach out to the district for assistance.

College Student Hunger

The Future is Being Starved (Fairfield Monitor, February 13, 2019)
With college now 163 percent more expensive than it was in 1988, many students are finding that after paying for tuition, housing, and textbooks, they have nothing left over for food. According to a New York Times article, “Students without access to proper resources, like nutritious food, have been reported to be unable to perform academically.” A recent report found that less than half of the 3.3 million students potentially eligible for SNAP in 2016 actually received benefits.

Employment and Wages

Low Wage, Not Low Skill: Why Devaluing Our Workers Matters (Forbes, February 7, 2019)
It’s a mistake to think of restaurant servers, home health care providers, migrant workers, and Americans working in retail, food service, healthcare industries as low skill workers in addition to low wage. These jobs may be low wage, yet “[e]very day, these workers pour their intelligence and ingenuity, craft and creativity, and sometimes mind-boggling resourcefulness into jobs where these attributes are sometimes appreciated, but rarely rewarded,” writes Byron Auguste, cofounder and CEO of Opportunity@Work, in this op-ed. “Undervaluing low-wage work as “low-skill” … also undermines our economic future.” Auguste advocates investing in these workers, “allowing them to put their talents and skills to better use – and with better reward” for an improved economy and healthier society.

From FRAC Chat

New FRAC Reports Shed Light on the Latest in School Breakfast Participation Rates and Trends – FRAC, February 13, 2019
FRAC has set an ambitious, but achievable, goal of reaching 70 low-income students who are certified to receive free or reduced-price school breakfast for every 100 who eat school lunch. FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard found that in the 2017–2018 school year, 57 low-income children nationally participated in the School Breakfast Program for every 100 who participated in the National School Lunch Program. This is a slight increase from 56.7 per 100 in the prior school year. West Virginia and New Mexico, which both have passed state legislation that requires all or some schools to offer breakfast after the bell, were the only two states to meet and exceed FRAC’s goal in the 2017–2018 school year.

Join the Celebration: Planning for National School Breakfast Week 2019 – FRAC, February 19, 2019
National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) is a weeklong celebration of the nation’s School Breakfast Program, which provides more than 14.6 million children — five out of six of them low-income — a nutritious morning meal each day. This year’s NSBW takes place March 4–8, 2019, which means it is time for schools to start planning NSBW celebrations to raise awareness about the benefits of participating in the School Breakfast Program. In order to plan and promote your school’s breakfast program for NSBW 2019, consider these tips and resources…