West Orange's Poorest Students Missed Out on Breakfast Last Year, Report Says

A study released by Advocates for Children of New Jersey this week found New Jersey nearly last in the nation in providing free- or reduced-price breakfast for eligible students.


The West Orange School District dramatically underserved its students last year who were eligible for a free- or reduced-price breakfast, according to a recent report. 

The second annual School Breakfast Report released by the Advocates for Children of New Jersey this week found there were 1,748 eligible students in West Orange who did not receive a federally funded free- or reduced-price breakfast in 2011-12. 

There were 2,591 students eligible to participate in the program last year, but only 33 percent -- about 850 students -- actually received a free- or reduced-price breakfast, according to the report. The district had about 6,800 students enrolled in its schools last year. 

According to the report, the district could have been reimbursed an estimated $470,000 if all eligible students participated in the program. 

The federally funded School Breakfast Program is available for children living in low-income families. A family of four earning less than $30,000 a year qualifies for free school meals, and a family of four earning about $42,000 qualifies for meals at a reduced price. 

West Orange is not an anomaly in New Jersey when it comes to falling short of ensuring its students participate in this program. Only 35 percent of the 471,714 children eligible for free- or reduced-price breakfast actually received it in March 2012, according to the report. 

New Jersey ranks 48th in the nation for its low participation in the federal child nutrition program, the report noted. 

While New Jersey has lagged behind in providing breakfast to students who are eligible for it, the state saw a 21 percent increase in the number of children from low-income families receiving breakfast at school between October 2010 and March 2012, the report found. 

Michelle Cadeau October 05, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I wonder how this study is made up. At our school there is always breakfast for the kids (paying or not paying). The kids might not eat it up that is up to them.... So is it that the school district didn't offer it or the students didn't use it? Seems confused.
john anthony prignano October 05, 2012 at 06:41 PM
2591 students qualify for free school meals, or meals at a reduced price.That's 38% of the student population Their families have to earn less than $42,000 a year to qualify. In the front of the classrooms are their employees, who earn 3 times or 4 times or 5 times or more what their employer's families earn.This is the New Order; The public employees do infinitely better than their employers,and these same public employees often take private - sector jobs from their employers. Greater and greater public - sector affluence and wealth, created not by business acumen or innovation or hard work, but by simply transferring private - sector dollars to the public sector.One group rises BECAUSE another group declines. I don't think we'll be hearing much " The public school's mission is to prepare students to be able to successfully compete in the high - tech , hyper- competitive global economy of the 21st century " I got a kick out of that picture of the Redwood school principal greeting the children on the first day of school.Nurturing,caring,attentive, ....and providing less than mediocre education while crushing them economically and stealing their futures. As for the School Board not providing free or reduced cost meals to 67% of eligible students, remember, nobody's perfect.
Kate Farrell October 05, 2012 at 07:18 PM
This article is fairly misleading. There are available programs for qualifying students. But it is the responsibility of their parent or guardian to sign them up, and many students don't want to go to school an hour early for breakfast.
DB October 05, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Unfortunately this is what is wrong with government programs. The program success is based on how much money is spend and people managing them try to spend all so next year they can get even more. Maybe the rest of the kids and their parents choose not to be part of this program and doesn't mean that they went hungry.
john anthony prignano October 05, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Kate Excuse my profound cynicism. You are clearly holding the West Orange Public School System blameless for this situation .You are also clearly stating that some of the students' parents are not meeting their parental responsibility, and, if they are, then many students simply choose not to be actively involved in the program. {Figures current as of December ,2011} - There is a Kathleen Farrell employed by the Middletown Board of Education at a base pay of $97,280.There is a Kathleen Farrell employed by the Roselle Board of Education at a base bay of $93,957. There is a Kathleen Farrell who was hired by the Scotch Plains - Fanwood Board of Education in 2010 who earns a base salary of $57,270.You hold the District blameless, you raise the distinct possibility that some parents are not meeting their parental responsibility, and if they are, some students simply choose not to participate. Kate, are you one of the three public educators I listed? If you are not, would you like to become the fourth person on that list?
john anthony prignano October 06, 2012 at 03:14 AM
At the Washington School, 63% of the students qualify for a free or reduced price breakfast.To qualify for the free breakfast,a family of 4 must earn less than $30k a year To qualify for the reduced price breakfast,a family of 4 must earn about $42k a year. 2010 figures - At the same school,there is a teacher making $106,433 plus $8k in longevity pay. Another teacher makes $101,765 plus $8k..Another teacher makes $103,066 plus $8k. Another teacher has a base pay of $98,767 plus 4k. A teacher with 9 years of service makes a base pay of $94,467.The principal's base pay in 2010 was $161,373. I would think she also gets $8k in longevity pay. 63% of their students qualify for a free or reduced price breakfast.Teacher compensation is derived solely from tax dollars. if we believe the "poverty equals educational failure " argument, then the number of children that cannot be properly educated is rapidly expanding.Teacher advocates often say things like "$100k in this area of the country doesn't go very far " Or for reasons of expediency, they totally ignore economic realities .They say that teachers work very hard and go above and beyond the contract, and they say teachers "deserve" more than their being paid. What do 63% of the children's families " deserve"? If $100k doesn't go very far, how far does $42k or less go? The employees rise ever higher BECAUSE their employers decline more and more."So much money has gone into preparation, there's nothing left to prepare for."
Kate Farrell October 06, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Way off, Mr. Prignano.
Kim M October 06, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I think that there may be some confusion about how the program works. Maybe we need to communicate the program to parents. Although we are fortunate and don't qualify for free or reduced breakfast, my son wanted breakfast at school one day. When we went to the school we were told that unless he was part of the YMCA program he could not be in the cafeteria without an adult family member. I'm not sure if that's an accurate stipulation of the program, but I could see how that would reduce participation in the program.
Michelle R. October 06, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I do not think it was the BOE fault unless they are implying they did not inform the parents of the results. Other than that kids probably choose to eat home. My son gets money each morning for school breakfast in case he wants to go early. He chooses to eat at home.
john anthony prignano October 06, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Kate, there are 5 people { Kathy, Kathryn, Catherine, Kathleen,Katherine } with your last name who are retirees of five different New Jersey school districts.This isn't the first time you've held the school district blameless for a problem,and instead you've placed the responsibility { and blame } solely on the parents and the students. Kate, is it at least POSSIBLE that the school district might share some of the blame for this problem?
john anthony prignano October 06, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Correction They're being paid


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something