Free breakfast program up, but Florida could do better, report states
For the first time ever, more than half of the students who are eligible for free- and reduced-price meals nationally participated in a free breakfast program at school in 2011-12, according to a new Food Research and Action Center report. The group, which advocates expanding the breakfast program as a health and academic achievement priority, wants to see that participation rise to 70 percent.
Florida saw its percentage of students rise slightly, but it remained far below the target and the national rate at 46.6 percent — that ranks the state at 28th in the nation on this measure.
If it were to provide breakfast to 70 percent of eligible students, the state would generate another $74.2 million in federal funding, the report states. That's generally in line with a 2009 OPPAGA finding that Florida would require millions more to grow its breakfast program.
Debra Susie, executive director for Florida Impact, told the Columbia County Observer that schools should not just think of cafeteria food lines for getting breakfast to needing children. "There are ways that we can do that creatively and effectively, and they have to do with looking at breakfast relative to alternative venues or at alternative times," she told the paper.
Pasco County's Schrader Elementary School won the 2008 Expanding Breakfast Award from the Dairy Council of Florida for its efforts. What are your schools doing?