ATLANTA, GA (March 9, 2021)) – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Southeast Regional Office, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), is celebrating School Breakfast Week, March 8-12, underscoring the importance of school breakfast and its value in improving health and educational outcomes from children. especially in these challenging times.
According to the regional office of the USDA – Food and Nutrition Service Southeast, the Department of Public Instruction in North Carolina had 2,528 schools running the school breakfast program in fiscal 2020. There were a total of 1,514,553 students enrolled in these schools and approximately 20% of them participated in the SBP on a daily basis.
“I am pleased to know that during the pandemic, schools have found innovative ways to serve breakfast, including the ability for parents to pick up meals from schools for their children studying from home,” said Willie C. Taylor , Regional Administrator of FNS Southeast. “We are grateful to our infant nutrition partners who have been committed to feeding the children in their care from the start as we all navigate this unprecedented time. Your efforts have helped ensure that every child in need has access to nutritious meals. “
The southeast region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) serves 3.2 million children daily school breakfast. Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast have improved mood and alertness as the morning progresses. On average, students who participate in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) eat a breakfast of higher nutritional quality than students who have breakfast elsewhere.
Schools and institutions that elect to participate in the SBP must offer a breakfast that meets federal nutritional requirements and offer it to all eligible children at a free or discounted price. In return, participating institutes receive cash grants from USDA for each reimbursable meal.
President Biden has taken executive action to provide economic relief to American families and businesses in the COVID-19 crisis while eliminating the aggravated racial inequalities.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the power of the partnership between the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and the heroes in our country’s schools and canteens has provided healthy meals to help fight hunger, improve diets, and give students the best opportunity to give, concentrate and learn. ” said Stacy Dean, Assistant Secretary of State for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “FNS continues to innovate in these troubled times and will provide schools with the tools they need to continue serving healthy school meals regardless of the challenge.”
SBP started as a pilot in 1966 and was made a permanent program by Congress in 1975. The program provides reimbursement to states that run nonprofit breakfast programs in schools and childcare facilities in residential areas. FNS manages the program at the federal level. State education agencies administer the program at the state level, and the local school food authorities operate the program in schools in the area.
USDA is expanding free meals, including breakfast and lunch, for all children through its summer meals throughout the 2020-2021 school year. The schools can continue to use the summer meals to offer the children a meal service until June 30, 2021.
USDA continues to provide support, resources, and flexibility to program operators to ensure that the children they care for are well nourished and able to learn in new and ever-changing learning environments. This flexibility, offered through the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program, includes:
- Enable meals to be served outside of the group setting normally required.
- Allow parents / guardians to collect meals.
- Refrain from eating samples if necessary.
- Allow meals to be served outside of standard meals; and
- Eliminating the requirement that students be offered a variety of options to choose from for the refundable meal, which would be difficult in situations where meals are served in the classroom.
The SBP is run by public or not-for-profit private schools at the high school level or below. Public or non-profit private childcare facilities and charter schools can also participate in SBP as public schools.