National School Breakfast Week Focuses Attention on Impact of School Breakfast on Academic Achievement

Mar 06, 2013, 14:06 ET from Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

New Analysis Shows Potential Impact of School Breakfast on Academic Achievement, Economic Prosperity; Interactive Map Shows Possible Benefits on State, Local Levels

DENVER, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This week, National School Breakfast Week brings renewed focus to the important impact school breakfast has on children's academic achievement. National child anti-hunger group Share Our Strength, Hunger Free Colorado, and other nutrition and education leaders are bringing attention to the fact that connecting more kids to the School Breakfast Program through innovative new legislation can potentially impact academic achievement.

"Students who start their school day with breakfast have proven to perform better in school and in testing, have better attendance and a better chance at graduating," said Colorado Share Our Strength Director Summer Gathercole. "This leads to a stronger workforce and a more competitive state."

According to new research Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign released last week, "Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis," ensuring low-income children have access to a healthy school breakfast has the potential to dramatically impact their academic, health and economic futures. The study was developed in collaboration with Deloitte and analyzed third party studies and publicly available data.

Analysis of Colorado data showed that if 70% of elementary and middle school kids eating a free or reduced-price lunch were also getting school breakfast in Colorado, this has the potential impact of 60,438 fewer school absences per year, 40,292 students scoring higher on standardized math tests per year, and 10,073 more high school graduates.

"Looking at these findings and recognizing the incredible impact breakfast has on children's lives is particularly poignant as we celebrate National School Breakfast Week," said USDA Food & Nutrition Service Regional Administrator Darlene Barnes. "We truly cannot underestimate the effect breakfast has on a child's ability to learn and grow."

In January 2013, Colorado State Representatives Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) and Tony Exum Sr. (D-Colorado Springs) and Colorado State Senator Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) introduced legislation to expand school breakfast programs in the state. House Bill 2013-1006 – also known as the Breakfast After the Bell Nutrition Program – would require Colorado schools with 70% or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals to offer all students a nutritious after-the-bell breakfast program, if they have at least 100 students in their school and 300 total in the district. Breakfast After the Bell would allow more students to start their days with a nutritious breakfast, ensuring they come to class ready to learn.

After advancing from the Colorado House Education Committee with a bipartisan vote of 11-2 in late January, the bill will come before the House Appropriations Committee for review on Friday, March 8.

"Legislation to expand Colorado's school breakfast program will ensure that more than 84,000 additional children receive breakfast every day," said Karla Maraccini, Director of Community Partnerships in the Governor's Office. "That's 84,000 more kids who have a chance to excel academically."

Nationally, students on average who eat school breakfast have been shown to achieve 17.5% higher scores on standardized math tests and attend 1.5 more days of school per year. Research also shows students who attend class more regularly are 20% more likely to graduate from high school, and high school graduates typically earn $10,090 more a year while enjoying a 4% higher employment rate.

"This report demonstrates that simply providing a healthy breakfast to children in need goes a long way in ensuring our economic prosperity," said Gathercole.  "The potential for students who eat breakfast to experience greater academic achievement and increased job readiness ultimately means a healthier and stronger economy."

The traditional school breakfast – breakfast served to low-income students in the cafeteria before school begins – has not been widely effective in connecting more kids to school breakfast due to stigma and tough schedules. In Colorado, only 45% of kids who are getting a free or reduced-priced school lunch are also eating school breakfast. Innovative ways of serving breakfast, such as moving it from the cafeteria to the classroom, help close that gap and ensure more low-income students are able to start the day with a healthy meal.

The Colorado No Kid Hungry Campaign, a partnership between Share Our Strength, Hunger Free Colorado and the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper, works to increase school breakfast program participation by working with teachers, principals, school food service directors, parents and students to implement innovative ways to serve breakfasts such as offering Breakfast in the Classroom or Grab n' Go options that make breakfast a part of every student's morning schedule.

"We all have a role to play in making sure that students have the nourishment they need to focus in class and do well academically," said Hunger Free Colorado Executive Director Kathy Underhill. "We can't have a strong Colorado, or a strong nation, without strong kids. This means we need to make No Kid Hungry a reality."

Learn more about these findings at and find out about the work being done locally to end childhood hunger at

Read the Deloitte white paper, "Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis," in its entirety at

About Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign

No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger. Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through its Cooking Matters program.  This work is accomplished through the No Kid Hungry network, made up of private citizens, public officials, nonprofits, business leaders and others providing innovative hunger solutions in their communities. The No Kid Hungry campaign's work to increase school breakfast participation is generously supported by national sponsor Kellogg's Corporate Citizenship Fund.  Join us at

About the Colorado No Kid Hungry Campaign

The Colorado No Kid Hungry campaign is a partnership between Hunger Free Colorado, the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper and Share Our Strength that is working to end childhood hunger in Colorado. Since the campaign launch in 2009, Colorado No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters program. Go to to learn more.

Contact: Anjali Reddy | | 202.734.3536

SOURCE Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign