The State of New Jersey ranks 46th for its participation in the national School Breakfast Program, according to the report.
Seventy-eight percent of students at the Greater Brunswick Charter School, or 277 students, qualify to participate in the program. All 277 do participate, according to the report.
This is a leap from the 12 percent served as of March, 2012. Between March of 2012 and April of 2013, the percentage jumped 733 percent, according to the report. This also placed the school on the list of "high poverty districts making progress."
The Perth Amboy School District also made the list of School Breakfast Champions, feeding 82 percent of the 6,596 students eligible for the program, according to the report.
Both districts were also among the Top 20 Districts With 20 Percent or More Eligible Students, according to the report. Middlesex Borough also made this list, feeding 73 percent of the 568 eligible students.
The New Brunswick School District was one of three county school districts relegated to the “School Breakfast Underachievers” list because of their high child poverty rates and low participation.
New Brunswick is eligible for $1,764,734 in reimbursement funding from the state, according to the report. Of the 7,338 students eligible for the program, 5,363 are not participating in the program, meaning only 27 percent of those eligible are. Ninety-three percent of students in the district are eligible to participate, according to the report.
The other school districts on the list include the Academy for Urban Leadership Charter School in Perth Amboy, which is feeding 18 of the 392 students eligible for the program; and Carteret, which feeds 21 of the 2,403 students in the district who are eligible, according to the report.
“School breakfast addresses a major barrier to learning,” Advocates for Children of New Jersey Executive Director Cecilia Zalkind, said in a prepared statement. “School districts should be commended for stepping up to meet the school breakfast challenge. Unfortunately, there is much work to do. About 300,000 children are still missing out on that all-important morning meal at school.”
The report praised Edison School District Superintendent Richard O’Malley for moving school breakfast to make it part of the school day, rather than serving it prior to the first bell.
Breakfast is now served in the classroom during the first couple of minutes of the school day, and participation is up to 70 percent of those eligible, as opposed to the previous 1 percent.
“It is working exceptionally well,” O’Malley said in the report. “Everyone has bought into this – teachers, principals, custodial staff, parents. I hear from parents all the time who are so pleased that they have this option. Classroom time is more productive, so it really boosts instructional time and academic achievement is at an all-time high.”
The state remains among the lowest in the country despite seeing a 35 percent increase in the number of students receiving breakfast at school, up from about 136,000 children in October of 2010 to about 184,000 in April of this year, according to the report.
The report only evaluates school districts where more than 20 percent of the student population is eligible for the program.