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More NJ Kids Are Enrolling in Breakfast in School Program [AUDIO]

The federal Breakfast at School program is expanding in the Garden State.

School Breakfast
Flickr User USDAgov

Three years ago 136,000 low-income students participated in the program, but in April of 2013, the number had risen to 184,000.

“What we discovered is that the barrier to making sure that kids get breakfast is where and when you serve it. Districts that serve breakfast in a central location before school starts actually serve fewer children. Kids just don’t get to school on time for breakfast, but those districts that serve breakfast after the bell in the classroom, making it part of first period have a much higher success rate,” says the Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, Ceil Zalkind.

She points out all the research shows “if you start the day with a good breakfast you’re more likely to be able to pay attention in class, you’re not going to have that mid-morning tired period, there are fewer visits to the nurse, less behavioral problems.”

“It does make a difference – it’s a simple healthy way to start the day.”

Zalkind says schools are using what’s called a Grab and Go breakfast, packaged in a bag, and brought to the classroom, where it’s passed out to the kids.

“It usually has a muffin, cereal or a bagel, milk and juice, a piece of fruit sometimes and the kids eat it at their desk,” she says. “It’s very easy to do – many schools feel that they can’t do this, but it really is much easier than you would think.”

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