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Effectiveness in Reaching Low-Income Students with School Breakfast

FRAC uses free and reduced-price participation in the school lunch program as a benchmark against which to measure low-income student participation in school breakfast. Because there is broad participation in the lunch program by low-income students in districts around the country, it is a fair measurement of how many students could and should be benefiting from school breakfast each day. Nationally, for every 100 low-income children who ate free or reduced-price lunch, 47.2 low-income children ate free or reduced-price breakfast in school year 2009– 2010. In many of the best performing states, the ratio is about 60:100 — in a few cases well above that level.

A challenging, yet achievable, goal for large urban districts would be to serve breakfast to at least 70 out of 100 low- income students who eat school lunch. Their large student populations allow them to benefit from economies of scale, and the concentration of free and reduced-price eligible students translates into larger federal reimbursements for the meals served. Most importantly, the concentrations of poor children in these urban areas present districts with the imperative to ensure that children have access to adequate nutrition in order to learn, grow, and thrive.

Only two districts—Detroit, MI and Newark, NJ—met or exceeded the FRAC goal of 70 percent low-income student breakfast participation. Boston came close, and an additional ten of the 29 urban districts in this study served breakfast to more than half of their low-income students that received lunch each day. Twelve districts were below the national average (47.2:100). Eleven were below even their state average for low-income student participation.

Effectiveness in Reaching LowIncome Students with School Breakfast in School Year 20092010

94.0

R a t i o

84.6

o f

68.7

B r e a k f a s t s

t o

61.0

60.8

60.0

57.3

56.9

56.2

56.1

55.7

55.6

55.3

48.4

48.2

47.4

46.8

45.6

44.7

44.4

43.1

43.0

L u n c h e s

39.6

38.6

37.4

35.1

34.1

32.0

29.4

Newark, NJ Detr oit, M I Boston, MA

Co lu mb us, OH Pittsburgh, PA San Diego, CA

Minneapolis, MN Milwaukee, WI Houston, TX

Los Angeles, CA Atlan ta, GA

Philadelphia, PA Cleveland, OH

Washington,DC Memphis, TN Omaha, NE Seattle, WA Ch ar lo tte, N C Baltimore, MD Little Rock, AR

Prince George's Co, MD Chicago, IL

Dallas, TX Denver, CO Miami, FL Orlando, FL

New York, NY Oakland, CA

Las Vegas, NV

Food Research and Action Center

School Breakfast in America’s Big Cities

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