North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced plans to direct $1.4 million in federal funding to help schools expand breakfast programs. The funds will be used to provide grants for school districts and charter schools to help expand student participation in school breakfast programs, according to the governor’s press release.
“A child who is hungry can’t learn and many children can’t or won’t eat when they have to get up so early,” stated Governor Cooper in the press release. “Innovative efforts that get breakfast to children in the classroom are proven to encourage them to eat which will improve their educational success.”
Data from No Kid Hungry NC found that the percentage of free and reduced price-eligible students eating school lunch who are also eating school breakfast has increased from about 40% to almost 60% since 2011.
The growing participation underscores the success of expanding much-needed breakfast programs like No Kid Hungry NC, and the potential for Governor Cooper’s initiative to help increase these numbers.
“School meals are an instructional intervention,” stated Lou Anne Crumpler, Director of the Carolina Hunger Initiative. “From reducing chronic absenteeism to improving reading achievement, small changes to how school breakfast is served can make big impacts on student success. In recent years, more than 60 percent of NC’s public-school students were eligible for free and reduced-price school meals, showing the big difference these programs make on children in need.”
Gov. Cooper’s 2023-25 budget proposal featured recurring funding to offset the co-pays for students eligible for reduced-price lunches in schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.
The governor also proposed a pilot program to assist eligible schools in participating in the Community Eligibility Provision program; a federal program that will help more students across the state receive free school breakfast and lunch.
Both proposed programs were funded in the final version of the state budget.
According to WRAL, applications for schools to receive grants will be available within the next month or two.