ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico ranked No. 1 for feeding low-income children breakfast at school, according to a new report.
It is the first time the rankings have come out since the state’s “Breakfast After the Bell” law took effect, which requires high poverty elementary schools to serve breakfast in the first minutes of class.
The report, The School Breakfast Scorecard, found that New Mexico served 70.2 low-income children breakfast for every 100 who received lunch during the 2011-12 school year. That compares with last year, when the ratio of low-income New Mexican students getting breakfast at school was 63.5 in 100.
The report is generated by the Food Research and Action Center, a nonprofit organization that works on hunger issues.
Albuquerque Public Schools ranked in the top 10 of large school districts by serving 69 low-income children breakfast for every 100 who ate lunch, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
“There is a ton of data that demonstrates the connection between kids eating breakfast at school and educational and behavioral outcomes,” said Jennifer Ramo, executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, a hunger advocacy group. “Discipline referrals go down. Tardiness goes down. Absenteeism goes down. Nurse visits go down. It’s pretty remarkable.”
The law has increased the number of New Mexico children who get breakfast at school by about 12,000, to a total of 62,000, Ramo said. It requires elementary schools with 85 percent or more of students who qualify for free-or-reduced price lunch to provide breakfast during the first instructional period.
New Mexico is the first state in the country to institute such a law.
The District of Columbia, West Virginia, South Carolina and Kentucky rounded out the top five states for low-income kids who get breakfast in school.
New Mexico provides about $2 million to schools for elementary school breakfasts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses the state fully for each child who is eligible for a free breakfast and partially for each child who is eligible for a reduced price breakfast.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal