TRENTON – An advocate for providing in-school breakfasts for children said today the problem primarily is not that the meals are not available, but that they are being offered when kids are not in school.
Nancy Parello, of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, said “They do not get to school with enough time to eat before the first bell rings.’’
She told the Senate Health Committee today that New Jersey ranks 46th in the nation for its low breakfast participation rate, despite the fact there is a great deal of evidence that children who have a nutritious breakfast do better in their schoolwork.
She said they have identified 68 school districts that have a high need in this regard: low-income families and a low degree of participation.
She said the districts on the list they compiled have 50 percent of the eligible children enrolled but less than 30 percent participating.
She said that statewide 80 percent of the eligible children are enrolled, but the vast majority of the schools are providing the breakfasts at a time when the kids are not there.
Parello said their organization seeks the Legislature’s support in drawing more attention to the problem, and obtaining a better confluence of breakfasts and timing.
Achieving better participation, she testified, would not hurt instruction time.