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Advocates Praise Mayor Bloomberg’s Expansion of In-Classroom School Breakfast Program

In the face of a serious economic downturn, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced 18 initiatives to help struggling New Yorkers, including the 1,200 food pantries and soup kitchens in New York City and the more than 1.5 million New Yorkers who are forced to use emergency food programs.

Bloomberg’s initiatives included expanding the in-classroom breakfast program, increased funding for frozen vegetables at emergency food programs, and targeted assistance to help senior citizens apply for food stamps.

One in five New York City children currently lives in a food-insecure household that cannot afford enough food. The New York City Coalition Against Hunger and other anti-hunger organizations have advocated for expanding the in-classroom breakfast as one of the best ways to reduce child hunger in New York City.

The in-classroom breakfast program allows all children to eat breakfast together as part of their first period of instruction. In traditional school breakfast programs, low-income students must arrive at school early and go to a separate lunchroom to eat. Separating out low-income students increases stigma and reduces participation in the breakfast program.

At the present time, only around 50 schools currently serve children breakfast in the first period of instruction. Bloomberg’s initiative – lead by the Department of Education – will expand the program to 300 more schools. Schools that currently have in-classroom school breakfasts reported reduced tardiness, improved attendance, and increased student attentiveness in the afternoon as a result of this program.

Said Joel Berg, the Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, “We thank the Mayor and the Speaker for their leadership in implementing in-classroom breakfast. This is a major advance that will be a model for the whole country. We know breakfast improves educational performance so in-classroom breakfasts are both good hunger and good education policy.”