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Hawai‘i 50th for School Breakfast Participation

February 13, 2019, 10:16 AM HST · Updated February 13, 10:16 AM
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Hawai‘i dropped from 49th to 50th in the nation for school breakfast participation among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the national School Breakfast Scorecard, released today by the Food Research & Action Center.

An estimated 26,170 low-income children in Hawai‘i participated in the national School Breakfast Program on an average school day in 2017–2018, a 5% decrease from the previous year.

The report finds that fewer than 40 low-income children in Hawai‘i ate school breakfast for every 100 that received free or reduced-price school lunch during the 2017–2018 school year. This is far below the national average of 57.

In fact, the top two states, West Virginia and New Mexico, had 84% and 70%, respectively, of their low-income lunch students also getting school breakfast.

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According to information compiled by the Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice, nearly 20,000 additional low-income keiki would receive the benefits of school breakfast if the state could increase its rate to 70%.

Alternatives to traditional breakfast models are offered in other locations including moving breakfast to after the first bell, or offering grab-and-go meals, to overcome late bus arrivals and other reasons that children and teenagers get to school too late to sit down for breakfast in the cafeteria before class.

“All of our keiki deserve a good education that opens up opportunities for the rest of their lives, and school breakfast is an important tool that can help our students succeed,” said Nicole Woo of the Hawai‘i Appleseed. “Some schools in our state have found new, successful ways to serve breakfast to their students, ensuring that they start the school day ready to learn. We strongly encourage other schools to follow their lead so that more of our children can benefit.”

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