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IYI: Impoverished students need breakfast, too

Scott Bauer acquired from USDA ARS

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% since 2005.

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

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

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.