More Children Participate

by Chief Tom Torlakson
March 13, 2013 • 389 views

While an average of 1.3 million California children each day participate in the state’s School Breakfast Program, about 63,000 more last year than in 2011, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson marked National School Breakfast Week by urging families to make sure all children get the nourishing food they need to succeed in school.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and California’s School Breakfast Program helps make sure that no child starts the school day too hungry to think and learn,” Torlakson said.

Studies show there’s a clear connection between health, learning, and attendance. Healthy children are more successful in school, have lower rates of absenteeism and tardiness, are more attentive and well-behaved, and are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college.

That’s why Torlakson encourages all children to be physically active, eat nutritious meals, and drink plenty of water as part of his Team California for Healthy Kids initiative. He is also the honorary chair of the BreakfastFirst Campaign, designed to promote breakfast outside of the cafeteria. Many schools have innovative programs like Classroom Breakfast, Grab-and-Go, and Second Chance Breakfast where students can get nutritious food whenever they are hungry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 14.9 percent or nearly 17.9 million American households were uncertain of having or acquiring enough food to feed their families in 2011. This food insecurity rate is worse in California, where 16.2 percent or about 2.1 million households did not have enough money or resources for food.

California’s School Breakfast Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Program provides nutritious breakfasts at low or no cost to children. The children must be in public and private nonprofit schools; and public and private nonprofit licensed residential child care institutions, such as group homes, juvenile halls, and orphanages.

The School Breakfast Program is open to all enrolled children. If a child already qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches, then the child would also qualify for free or reduced-price breakfasts. The breakfast may include items such as whole-grain breads, eggs and yogurt, fruits and vegetable juices, and milk.

Sponsors submit reimbursement claims to the California Department of Education to receive funding for their breakfast programs. For more information on how to participate, guidance, and meal plans, please visit the California Department of Education’s School Breakfast Program Web page.

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