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Student Participation in School Breakfast Declined in South Carolina Last Year

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South Carolina remains in the top 15 states for participation by schools

Columbia, SC–The number of low-income students who participated in the School Breakfast Program in South Carolina decreased last year, according to the annual School Breakfast Scorecard released yesterday by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). The scorecard compares the rate of participation of low-income students in the School Breakfast Program compared to the rate of participation in the National School Lunch Program in each of the 50 states and District of Columbia. The percent participation of the Breakfast Program fell to 62.5 percent of the participation for the School Lunch Program in 2018-2019, compared to 62.8 percent in 2017-2018.

Despite this dip, South Carolina remains in the top 15 states for School Breakfast Program participation, ranking 12th in the nation for the 2018-2019 school year. The state’s participation rate is also higher than the national average of 57.5 percent participation in the School Breakfast Program. Among schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, South Carolina is a top state for also offering access to the School Breakfast Program, ranking fourth in the nation in the 2018-2019 school year with 99.7 percent participation, trailing only Delaware, Texas, and Virginia. Over 227,000 students had access to School Breakfast through the program in South Carolina.

The FRAC report also sets forth the federal funds forfeited by each state that fails to meet its recommended benchmark of 70 percent School Breakfast participation among School Lunch participants. If South Carolina were to meet FRAC’s recommended threshold, that would equate to over 27,000 more low-income students receiving school breakfast and close to $8 million dollars in additional federal funding flowing into our state.

“South Carolina schools’ near total offering of School Breakfast and relatively high student participation rate in the program is a bright spot for a state that ranks toward the bottom on most hunger and food security issues, but we need to do better,” said Sue Berkowitz, Director of South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. “School Breakfast is one of the best ways to improve student performance, to say nothing of combating food insecurity in our state. With a few modest but important changes we can make sure all children can eat breakfast each morning. We need to make sure this slight decrease in student participation is only a single data point and not a trend.”