Vermont ranks second for number of low-income children eating breakfast at school

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Vermont ranks second for number of low-income children eating breakfast at school

Fri, 03/12/2021 - 4:18am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The annual School Breakfast Scorecard , released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) found that Vermont ranks 2nd in the nation, behind only West Virginia, for the ratio of low-income students eating breakfast to those eating lunch. Vermont and West Virginia were the only states to meet FRAC’s benchmark of 70 breakfasts for every 100 lunches.

On an average pre-pandemic school day during the 2019–2020 school year, 55 percent of low-income children in Vermont participated in the national School Breakfast Program.

As schools switched to remote learning last March, school foodservice staff adjusted quickly, delivering meals through school bus routes and offering safe pick-up sites at schools and other community locations.

Throughout the pandemic, Vermont schools have led the way in ensuring students have access to adequate, healthy meals to fuel learning. Vermont was the only state to increase the total number of breakfasts and lunches served in April 2020 when compared to April 2019, according to a FRAC snapshot report .

Studies show that students who eat school breakfast are more likely to succeed in school and have better health outcomes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allowing all children to receive school breakfast and lunch for free.

“No student should learn what hunger feels like at school. Providing a nutritious school breakfast is one important way we prevent hunger and make sure all students have what they need to succeed.” said Anore Horton, Executive Director at Hunger Free Vermont. “COVID-19 has caused alarming spikes in childhood hunger in Vermont and across the country. As students return to the classroom, school breakfast provides a critical source for children to get the nutrition they need for their health and learning.”

Vermont’s leadership in providing access to school breakfast is due to the hard work and commitment of schools throughout Vermont, in collaboration with statewide nonprofits and the Vermont Agency of Education.

It can also be attributed to the number of schools across the state that have chosen to both move breakfast after the bell using an alternative breakfast model , and made breakfast available at no charge to all students.

While school meals are temporarily universal for all schools due to the USDA’s emergency COVID-19 measures, Hunger Free Vermont is championing state legislation to ensure that all students have access to free school meals permanently, and every child has this essential tool to succeed in school.

About Hunger Free Vermont: Hunger Free Vermont is a statewide nonprofit organization that works with state agencies and community groups to develop sustainable hunger solutions. Since 1993 Hunger Free Vermont’s outreach programs and advocacy have substantially enhanced Vermont’s nutrition safety net and increased access to nutritious foods.

Source: South Burlington, March 10, 2021