With Connecticut ranking near the bottom among states in providing breakfast to low-income students, the federal government is offering a $22 million carrot to entice districts to launch breakfast and summer programs.
“They are prepared to send us $22 million to make sure our children are fed properly… This is an issue we have to take on,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told school nutrition advocates at the state Capitol Tuesday.
“Let’s guarantee that the [number of] schools that are unwilling to participate is greatly diminished,” Malloy said.
Although almost all of the state’s 1,200 schools across the state offered free or reduced-price lunch last school year, just half offered breakfast –the lowest proportion in the nation of schools that are eligible to participate. Only 44 percent of the students in the federally subsidized School Lunch Program also participate in the school breakfast program, according to the FRAC, a national anti-hunger organization.
Two years ago, state lawmakers appropriated additional state funding to entice more schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families to partcipate in the school breakfast program, a move that officials say has helped. But local officials say that even with the federal and state reimbursements, it doesn’t always cover the entire cost of opening school breakfast programs.
When it comes to students receiving meals during the summer, one-in-four needy children receive meals in Connecticut — one of the highest rates in the country, FRAC reports.
To get the funding, “Feed them in the morning if that’s what they require. Leave (school) with a piece of fruit if that’s what they require. Feed them in the summer it that’s what they require,” Malloy said.