(NORTH BRUNSWICK) – The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service today celebrated National School Breakfast Week by visiting Parsons Elementary School.
The North Brunswick School District has been an active participant in the Breakfast After the Bell Program for the past 14 years. At Parsons Elementary School, 87 percent of the students eligible for free and reduced lunch also receive breakfast.
“Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast lays the foundation for students to have a successful day,” said NJDA Secretary Douglas Fisher. “The Breakfast After the Bell Program has been a regular part of the day for students in North Brunswick for many years and it’s good to know that it benefits so many.”
Secretary Fisher, USDA Regional Administrator Patricia Dombroski, NJDA Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario, NJDA School Nutrition Program Coordinator Arleen Ramos-Szatmary and local and school officials visited two classrooms at Parsons Elementary, which has about 650 students from kindergarten through fifth grade.
“A balanced breakfast gives children the energy and nutrition they need to learn and strengthen their abilities to achieve in the classroom,” Tricario said.
New Jersey has seen one of the largest increases in the nation in breakfast participation in recent years. New Jersey is ranked 21st in the nation in percentage of eligible students who receive breakfast through the School Breakfast Program, improving from 48th in 2011.
“We want our students to start their day on a positive note and being able to provide a good breakfast is one way to accomplish that,” said Dr. Brian Zychowski, the Superintendent for the North Brunswick Township School District. “If they don’t have to worry about where their first meal of the day is coming from, that allows them to be more focused academically and it can also be important for them socially.”
Fewer New Jersey students have that concern compared to recent years. During the 2010-11 school year just over 173,000 New Jersey students received breakfast. That number has increased to more than 250,000 for the 2018-19 school year.
School Breakfast Week is an initiative of the School Nutrition Association. The week was launched in 1989 to raise awareness about the availability of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s School Breakfast Program and increase participation by schools and students. School breakfast is a federally funded program administered locally by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food and Nutrition.
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