School breakfast is so important that legislation is moving forward to boost the Breakfast After the Bell program which provides a healthy breakfast to children during the school day. In New Jersey, the legislation is moving through the state assembly and senate in the expectation that a healthy breakfast will boost academic performance.
Under the provisions of the bill, the state would be required to assist school districts and nonpublic schools in raising the participation of students in the federal School Breakfast Program.
“Breakfast After the Bell” has had success with ensuring that students are able to eat breakfast during the first period in the classroom, or during the first few minutes of the school day. The problem of encouraging students to come early for breakfast is avoided when it is presented as part of the school day.
The Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with the Department of Education, would oversee the effort and also be charged with preparing and issuing an annual report to the governor and the legislature on the number and percentage of students participating in a school breakfast program, and the format used for providing breakfast.
“Currently, the vast majority of New Jersey school districts only serve breakfast to a fraction of eligible children,” said Cryan (D-Union). “With research showing that school breakfast increases attendance and decreases tardiness, improves academic performance both in class and on standardized tests, and improves attentiveness, we need to make it a priority.
“Studies show that providing school breakfast also reduces emotional and behavioral problems among students from all different backgrounds,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By making sure more students have breakfast everyday, we can boost both their physical and mental well-being and increase their long-term chances for success.”
“According to experts, the percentage of students that participate in school breakfast increases when breakfast is served in the classroom after the start of school,” said Singleton (D-Burlington).