Honolulu, February 8, 2018 — In the first-ever school-by-school report on school breakfast participation in the state of Hawai‘i, 15 schools were named “School Breakfast Champions.” These schools met or exceeded a national standard for high participation in school breakfast among low-income students.
In the most recent national School Breakfast Scorecard, published by the Food Research & Action Center, Hawai‘i ranked 47th among the states in school breakfast participation during the 2015-16 school year. That report compares the number of low-income children who eat school breakfast with those who receive school lunch. For Hawai‘i, it found that fewer than half (43 percent) of our state’s low-income students were participating in school breakfast.
The Hawai‘i School Breakfast Scorecard, released today by the Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice, replicates the methodology of the national scorecard and finds that 15 of our schools met or exceeded the national report’s participation goal of 70 percent participation in school breakfast in 2015-16.
These “School Breakfast Champions” are, in order of performance: Kona Pacific PCS, Olomana School, Maunaloa Elementary, Kohala Middle, ‘Aiea Intermediate, Castle High, Anuenue School, Hawai‘i School for the Deaf and Blind, Kalaheo High, Ka‘u Learning Academy PCS, Lahainaluna High, Kohala High, ‘Aiea Elementary, Ka‘a‘awa Elementary, and Nanakuli High & Intermediate.
The Hawai‘i School Breakfast Scorecard lists school breakfast participation data for every public school in the state in 2015-16. They include each school’s breakfast participation rate, how many more students would get breakfast if it reached the 70 percent goal, and how much more federal funding it would receive (in school breakfast reimbursements).
A proven way to increase school breakfast participation is to move serving times after the first bell, either into the classroom, onto grab-and-go carts, or after first period. Albert Scales, the Department of Education’s School Food Program Administrator, states, “Breakfast in the classroom is essential to student overall academic success and health. There are many statistics that demonstrate that students are able to perform better after eating breakfast.”
The report highlights two schools that are currently successfully piloting new ways to improve school breakfast participation, Volcano School of Arts & Sciences on the Big Island and Kamaile Academy on O‘ahu.
Statewide, on an average school day during 2015-16, nearly 62,000 students participated in free or reduced-price lunch. Of those, only about 26,500 also participated in school breakfast, or 43 percent. If all of Hawai‘i’s schools could match the performance of the School Breakfast Champions, with 70 percent participation, that would mean almost 17,000 additional students having school breakfast and almost $7 million more in federal funding.
“Research has shown that when students eat school breakfast, they also have better nutrition and lower rates of obesity, as well as improved attendance, behavior and grades,” says Gavin Thornton, co-executive director of Hawai‘i Appleseed. “In the face of some of the highest food costs in the nation, we should be doing everything possible to make sure that low-income students are able to easily access free or reduced-price breakfast at school.”
Hawai‘i Appleseed has launched a School Breakfast Challenge to help Hawai’i schools increase their school breakfast participation numbers, especially among low-income students. Appleseed is offering technical support and up to $10,000 per school in grants. Schools may apply online to participate in the School Breakfast Challenge.
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The Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice is committed to a more socially just Hawaiʻi, where everyone has genuine opportunities to achieve economic security and fulfill their potential. We change systems that perpetuate inequality and injustice through policy development, advocacy, and coalition building.