New Missouri Report Proves Expanded School Breakfast Reduces Childhood Hunger

Missouri's strong school breakfast participation helps better prepare kids for a day of learning.

Jefferson City, MO, March 10, 2018 --( According to the Missouri School Breakfast Report released today by Empower Missouri and Operation Food Search, more than 247,000 low-income children in Missouri participated in the national School Breakfast Program on an average school day in 2016–2017.

“School breakfast means less hunger, better health, and improved educational outcomes for our children,” said Jeanette Mott Oxford, Executive Director of Empower Missouri. “The many schools in Missouri that offer breakfast at no charge to all students and serve breakfast after the bell are ensuring that children start the school day ready to learn. We strongly encourage other schools to follow their lead so that more children may benefit.”

The report finds that 59.4 percent of low-income children in Missouri ate school breakfast for every 100 that received free or reduced-price school lunch during the 2016–2017 school year. This is slightly above the national average of 56.7 percent of low-income children eating school breakfast for every 100 who received school lunch, as determined by the national anti-hunger group Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).

FRAC has set a goal of reaching 70 low-income children with school breakfast for every 100 receiving school lunch. Out of approximately 550 school districts in Missouri, 111 school districts achieved this goal. A full list of top-performing districts can be found in the report.

Missouri’s strong school breakfast participation can be attributed to two key strategies: community eligibility, which allows high-poverty schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students, and; breakfast after the bell models that move breakfast out of the cafeteria and after the first bell, such as breakfast in the classroom. Offering breakfast after the school day starts helps schools and students overcome common barriers such as late bus arrivals, tight household budgets, and the stigma associated with school breakfast as being only for low-income children. Used together, these two approaches can continue to move the needle on school breakfast participation throughout Missouri.

Empower Missouri is strictly non-partisan organization that educates and empowers Missourians on issues of hunger, housing, education, health and economic opportunity. Since 1901, Empower Missouri has focused on improving public policy in order to ensure access to basic human needs and to promote equity.

Founded in 1981, Operation Food Search (OFS) is a hunger relief organization that provides food and nutrition education. With a strategic focus aimed at ending childhood hunger, OFS empowers families with a range of programs and services proven to reduce food insecurity and increase access to healthy and affordable food. The agency helps feed more than 200,000 individuals on a monthly basis – one-third of which are children – through a network of 330 community partners in 31 Missouri and Illinois counties. Operation Food Search is located at 1644 Lotsie Blvd. For more information, call (314) 726-5355.
Operation Food Search
Rochelle Brandvein