Minnesota breakfast participation low

Hunger-Free Minnesota reports 33-million meal gap for breakfast.

According to data compiled by Hunger-Free Minnesota, participation in the state’s breakfast program remains low. Of a total of 49.6 million breakfasts that could be served to Minnesota students during a full school year, only 17.1 million breakfasts were served, a gap of 33 million meals, according to the organization.

Hunger-Free Minnesota is a coalition of community leaders, citizens, nonprofits agencies, food banks and corporate partners including General Mills, Hormel Foods, Cargill and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. The organization hopes to solve the missing meal gap in the state.

“While the USDA-funded National School Lunch Program participation is rising, this new data demonstrates the opportunity in schools to fight hunger is now greatest with the first meal of the day,” Stacey Stockdill, Hunger-Free Minnesota spokeswoman, said in a press release. “Minnesota’s neediest students are missing out on a federally funded program that could help combat the state’s growing problem of food insecurity. The good news is that we can make a significant difference in raising our students’ readiness to learn by better utilizing existing programs and by reducing barriers to participation.”

Nearly 30% of the state’s students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches. The organization found, however, that only 34% of those students are eating breakfast at school.

Hunger-Free Minnesota hopes to add 4 million new breakfasts served to the state’s students.

To learn more about Hunger-Free Minnesota and its initiatives, visit the website at hungerfreemn.org.