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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. 

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


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