School Breakfast Participation
Oklahoma falls behind in school breakfast participation
New statewide study shows Oklahoma dropping from 14 to 23
Tulsa, OK (March 8, 2018) – Hunger Free Oklahoma, an organization working to end food insecurity across the state, published its first Oklahoma School Breakfast Report Card today which finds that the rate of breakfast participation in Oklahoma has fallen behind other states, even as participation has experienced a slight uptick.
In the 2016-2017 school year, 190,522 Oklahoma students participated in the National School Breakfast Program. While this is an increase of nearly 7,000 students, similar growth in Oklahoma public school enrollment leaves the percent of students participating largely the same. Other states are increasing participation rapidly which meant Oklahoma dropped nine spots, now ranking 23 in breakfast participation across all states.
Oklahoma schools, however, are making great strides to provide access to nutritious meals and improve participation in school breakfast. Many schools across the state are implementing policies and changes to ensure increased participation and the Oklahoma State Department of Education has made school breakfast a top priority in its state strategic plan “Oklahoma Edge.” Those efforts are showing returns. Nearly one in four Oklahoma schools serve breakfast to 80 % or more of the of their low income students who participate in school lunch and Tulsa Public Schools remains a leader for breakfast participation among large school districts.
The Breakfast Report Card, which was conducted in partnership with Texas Hunger Initiative, tracks participation across the state and also outlines practical models for serving breakfast in schools. The report shows the benefits and recommended goals to ensure all students have access to a healthy breakfast. With 1 in 5 Oklahoma kids living in a-food insecure household, the public school system is on the front lines of ensuring that Oklahoma’s children have the nutrition they need to learn and grow.
“The benefits of offering our students a breakfast each morning include more than just giving them the satisfaction of having a full stomach,” said Katherine Bishop, Vice President of the Oklahoma Education Association. “Feeding breakfast is not only beneficial for students; teachers benefit too from happier and more-focused students, improved test scores, better attendance, and fewer disruptions. Making sure that every student has the fuel they need to start the day is one more way Oklahoma teachers are committed to supporting their students in and out of the classroom.”
The Breakfast Report Card entails these key findings on participation in school breakfast:
- 4% of students who are eating free or reduced-price lunch are eating school breakfast.
- Hunger Free Oklahoma has set an ambitious, but achievable, goal of increasing statewide participation to 80% of low income students who eat free or reduced-price lunch.
- If Oklahoma met the 80% breakfast participation benchmark, the state would reach an additional 70,000 eligible students and bring in an additional $22 million in federal dollars back to our state.
- 23% of Oklahoma school districts currently meet the 80% benchmark.
- One third (33%) of Oklahoma school districts serve breakfast to 70% or more of their students participating in free or reduced-price lunch.
The report serves as an alarm to schools and childhood anti-hunger advocates, and it is also an innovative tool and resource for improving in the next year.
“Without the data and research on school breakfast participation, we can’t know where Oklahoma stands in addressing childhood hunger,” said Chris Bernard, Executive Director, Hunger Free Oklahoma. “Hungry kids can’t learn. We hope that this report serves as a call to action to get breakfast to more students in need. Hunger Free Oklahoma is here to help stakeholders achieve that goal.”
Hunger Free Oklahoma intends to conduct the statewide analysis biannually to track progress across the state.
Oklahoma School Breakfast Report Card: http://hungerfreeok.org/school-breakfast-report-2016-2017/
About Hunger Free Oklahoma: The HFO mission is to leverage the power of collaboration to solve hunger in Oklahoma by improving systems, policies, and practices. Learn more at www.HungerFreeOK.org
Texas Hunger Initiative: The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) at Baylor University is a capacity-building and collaborative project, which develops and implements strategies to end hunger through policy, education, research, community organizing, and community development in Texas. Learn more at www.baylor.edu/texashunger.