Rise In Child Poverty Highlights Need For Free Breakfasts

The Indiana Youth Institute says schools in Indiana need to consider offering free breakfast programs because of the increase in child poverty.

child eating breakfast at school

Photo: USDA (Flickr)

A first grader eats breakfast at his school in Chicago.

As child poverty in Indiana continues to increase, the Indiana Youth Institute is stressing the need for schools to offer breakfast programs.

Ten years ago, child poverty was in the single digits in Indiana. It now sits at 22 percent. There are many ripple effects associated with the increase, including a growing number of students relying on school breakfast programs. Participation is up nearly 60-percent since 2005.

Still, Indiana Youth Institute President Bill Stanczykiewicz is concerned there are kids who are not getting a good breakfast.

“Forty-seven percent of our students are enrolled in the free and reduced price lunch program and just 26 percent are signed up for the breakfast program,” he says.

Students eligible for free and reduced lunch are also eligible for breakfast.  And that gap between those who use the federal lunch and breakfast programs puts Indiana in the bottom half of the country.

Stanczykiewicz says school districts need to pay closer attention to how many children under their care qualify for the breakfast program.  He also says community organizations need to play a part, alerting schools of increased need and helping fund the start up costs for school breakfast programs.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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