According to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance around 290,000 Arkansas children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch at school, and there’s an effort under way to make sure they get breakfast too.
More than 60 percent of Arkansas children qualify for free or reduced price lunch at school.
The Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) School Breakfast Scorecard for the 2014-2015 school year shows Arkansas has made a lot of progress in increasing the number of low-income students eating breakfast at school, moving up from 10th to seventh in the nation.
Nancy Conley, communications director for the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, says research shows children who eat breakfast perform better in school.
“They have fewer tardies, they have fewer behavior problems, it’s easier for them to focus on their schoolwork, and better health outcomes,” she points out.
The governor’s office has teamed up with the Hunger Alliance, the state Education Department and the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign to make March School Breakfast Month in an effort to get more schools to participate.
Several programs are being put in place in Arkansas schools to boost the number of children starting the day with a meal including Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go and Second Chance Breakfast.
Conley says for many children, eating at school is the only time they can count on a meal.
“Kind of a long time between lunch one day and lunch the next or breakfast the next,” she stresses. “So there are a lot of kids that really in nutritional crisis were it not for the school meals.”