Good nutrition makes a difference

While hunger has been steadily decreasing in Oregon, it remains persistently high.

According to a new USDA report on Food Insecurity in the U.S. nearly one in seven households (14.6 percent) in Oregon were “food insecure” between 2014-16.

This affects 620,000 Oregonians, and over 316,000 kids, where 1 in 4 children from low-income food insecure homes are at risk of hunger and are eligible for nutrition programs.

We understand the physical, emotional, and cognitive impacts of a lack of adequate nutrition on kids. A skipped or partial breakfast or lunch may lead a child to feel frazzled and anxious during a third-grade reading exam. Over time, we know this child may fall behind a grade level, and ultimately might not graduate from high school due to a lack of essential nutrition and energy during their educational journey in school.

Access to healthy nutritious food for children exists through the suite of USDA Child Nutrition Programs available including the School Breakfast Program (SBP), the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and the After School Meal and Snack Program (ASMSP).

We work with community partners including the Oregon Department of Education, to publicize and expand participation in these nutrition programs through technical assistance, outreach and marketing materials, and discrete-designed programs to boost participation.

Who is eligible?

Any student is welcome to enjoy meals at their school. Whether a family pays or is eligible for free meals, the food served at school meets nutrition guidelines that helps all children and teens grow and learn.

Below 185% federal poverty level

Children whose families have income at or below 185% of the federal poverty level can get free meals, as the state of Oregon covers the "reduced price" co-pay cost for families. Families over 185% of poverty pay full price for school breakfast and lunch.

Homeless or Foster Care

Children who are homeless or in Foster Care also qualify.

Receive SNAP or TANF benefits

If your family receives benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), regardless of the amount, you will qualify for free school meals. If you are not on SNAP, or have never applied for SNAP or School Meals, your child may still be eligible for free breakfast and lunch in school based on your family income.

Who can run School Nutrition Programs?

Public and private non-profit schools, Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCI)

All Public and private non-profit schools (high school and under), and Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCI) can participate. Participation allows schools to receive cash subsidies for each breakfast, lunch or snack served. In return, programs serve meals consistent with USDA nutrition standards and are monitored by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).

School Breakfast Program

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) provides federal reimbursements to providers who operate nonprofit breakfast programs in schools and residential childcare institutions.

The program is administered at the Federal level by the USDA and at the State level by the Oregon Department of Education.

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon works with the Oregon Department of Education and other community partners to publicize the School Breakfast Program and support schools who participate.

We identify opportunities for School Breakfast Program improvement through our work with providers here in Oregon and monitoring efforts of other states. We advocate for these improvements through state and federal policy change, like the 2015 Breakfast after the Bell bill.

Benefits to children, families, and schools

1. More children start the day with breakfast

Students get a nutritionally balanced start to their day so they can do well mentally, physically, and socially.

2. Greater cognition and health

Students are less likely to struggle academically or have health issues.

3. Increased access

Families face challenges to providing breakfast for their kids, including tight food budgets or early-morning work, carpool, or bus schedules; the SBP provides a healthy option available for their kids.

4. Greater participation in learning

Studies suggest that students who eat breakfast increase their math and reading scores, do better on standardized tests, and improve both their speed and memory in cognitive tests. It has also been shown to positively impact absenteeism, tardiness, nurse visits, and behavioral incidents.

5. Strong child nutrition programs

School food nutrition departments benefit financially when they are able to reach more children in need with school breakfast; increased participation helps create economies of scale, and options such as Provision 2 and Community Eligibility Provision help yield federal reimbursement dollars to support strong programs.

Model Programs

Schools across the country have found that substantially more children eat breakfast when it is served after the bell and free of charge for all students, when viable. By offering breakfast as part of the school day, schools can eliminate barriers such as bus schedules and stigma that get in the way of students eating this important meal. Many organizations have created tools to help teachers, schools and advocates promote school breakfast.

Additional Resources

Oregon Department of Education’s Breakfast in the Classroom Manual

Share Our Strength’s Center for Best Practices

Food Research and Action Center’s research and tools on school breakfast

Learn about the November School Breakfast Challenge

–Coming Soon–

National School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Program has been serving children nationwide since Congress passed the 1946 National School Lunch Act in response to widespread childhood malnutrition. The program aims to provide nutritious food to school aged children and support food prices by channeling farm surpluses into the school food system. The program is administered at the Federal level by USDA and at the State level by the Oregon Department of Education.

Highlights:

  • Federal entitlement program providing schools cash subsidies for low-cost, healthy meals
  • Meals must meet federal nutrition guidelines
  • Funds may be used to cover food, administration and staffing costs
  • Participating schools also can receive donated commodity food from the USDA

Benefits to Students:

  • Access to a balanced, nutritious lunch that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and milk
  • Improved academic performance, concentration and fewer behavioral problems
  • Participation in the program can assist in developing good eating habits

Benefits to Schools and Programs:

  • Cash reimbursements to schools
  • Wellness policies to help schools address obesity problems and promote physical activity

After School Meal and Snack Program

The federal After School Meal and Snack Program (ASMSP) provides reimbursement to qualifying after school enrichment programs that serve free meals or snacks to their children.

ASMSP is an extension of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and is sometimes referred to as the “At-Risk” or “Supper” program. All meals and snacks are served free of charge to youth in participating after school enrichment programs.

Benefits to Kids

Strong Bodies: Improve the health and well being of the children you serve. The snacks and meals are nutritionally-balanced and allow kids to get the most from your enrichment program

Strong Minds: By the time children come to your programs it may have been 3-4 hours since their last meal, making it difficult to concentrate or learn. This program ensures that students continue to thrive even after the school bell rings.

Strong Communities: After school programs provide a safe, supervised environment during a time when many youth would otherwise be home alone, or on the street.

Benefits to After School Programs

Strengthens and Preserves Programming:

Providing meals and snacks can be expensive, leaving program managers with a difficult choice between feeding kids and providing enriching activities. ASMSP can help you do both, saving thousands of dollars on meals and snacks that can fund program activities.

Funding Diversity:

The meal program is a great tool to use for approaching future funders. Incorporating this as part of your fundraising budget shows potential funders your willingness to leverage all available resources in your community. It also demonstrates a commitment to your children’s overall health and wellness.

Eligibility Requirements

The site must be located within a school attendance boundary where at least 50% of the children are eligible for Free and Reduced (F/R) lunches.

Schools, churches, apartment complexes, community centers, boys and girls clubs, tribal agencies and other organizational locations are examples of appropriate sites.

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