The number of children relying on Uncle Sam to provide their first meal of the day at school has increased by 27 percent since President Obama took office, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This week, the USDA is commemorating the 50th anniversary of its School Breakfast Program and highlighting the Obama administration’s expansion of the program, which provides subsidized breakfast to eligible students.
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the School Breakfast Program, we reflect on the great strides the program has made in strengthening the health and nutrition of children in America. The School Breakfast Program allows millions of students to start their day with a well-balanced breakfast, which, in turn, is linked to better performance in the classroom, better attendance, and better health,” Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon said in a statement Monday.
According to the USDA, which administers the nation’s food assistance programs, more than 14 million children participated in the School Breakfast Program last school year, an increase of 3 million children since Obama took office.
In its release Monday, USDA credited the increased participation to implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision — included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 — which allows schools with high poverty levels to provide free breakfast and lunch to all their students.
“Subsequently, the reach of the School Breakfast Program has rapidly increased over the past seven years,” USDA explained.
While the number of school children eating breakfast at school is rising, most school children do not participate in the program. Additionally school breakfast is open to all children, not just low income students. According to USDA, last year over 90,000 schools and child care sites served more then 2.3 billion breakfasts.
In conjunction with USDA’s celebration of School Breakfast Week, Concannon announced the availability $6.8 million in Team Nutrition Training Grants to provide training to schools and childcare providers that participate in the program.
“The $6.8 million in grant funds USDA is offering to support school breakfast and other child nutrition programs demonstrates our commitment to providing schools and child care sites the resources and support they need to help kids start their day off right and continue strong all day long,” added. Concannon.