The State of New Jersey ranks 46th in the nation, according to the report.
Camden County ranks eighth out of the state’s 21 counties when it comes to
participation. As a whole, 38 percent of children eligible for free or reduced
lunches are taking advantage of the program, up from 33 percent in the 2012, according to the New
Jersey Food For Thought School Breakfast Report, released on Tuesday.
However, there are still a large number of students not participating, and local school districts will feel the impact when it comes to federal reimbursement money.
The Gloucester Township School District stands to bring back $483,352 in federal money, since 1,827 of the eligible students are not participating in the program. Only 30 percent of those eligible are eating breakfast at school. Thirty-seven percent, or 2,595, of the district’s students are eligible for the program, according to the report.
The Black Horse Pike Regional School District, which consists of Highland Regional, Triton and Timber Creek, is eligible for up to $203,393 due to only 30 percent of eligible students participating in the program, according to the report.
Twenty-eight percent, or 1,108 students, in the district are eligible for the program, but 780 of those eligible are choosing not to participate.
The Collingswood School District is eligible for up to $144,722 in federal reimbursement money relating to the program, according to the report.
That’s because 547 of the 677 students eligible for the program are not receiving breakfast from the school. Only 19 percent of those eligible to receive breakfast are taking advantage of the program.
Thirty-six percent of the school district’s total population is eligible for the program.
“School breakfast addresses a major barrier to learning,” Advocates for Children of New Jersey Executive Director Cecilia Zalkind, said in a prepared statement. “School districts should be commended for stepping up to meet the school breakfast challenge. Unfortunately, there is much work to do. About 300,000 children are still missing out on that all-important morning meal at school.”
In all, 20,700 eligible children in the county did not take advantage of the program, according to the report. If 100 percent of those eligible took advantage of the program, the school districts could collect $6.4 million in additional reimbursement money to provide breakfast to the school districts, according to the report.
D.U.E. Charter School feeds 87 percent of those eligible, topping the list in the county. Environment Community Opportunity feeds 77 percent of eligible students, coming in second on the list, according to the report.
Camden Academy Charter High School and the Brooklawn, Woodlynne, Clementon and Winslow school districts were listed as “Breakfast Underachievers,” due to the low participation and high child poverty levels, according to the report.
The state remains among the lowest in the country despite seeing a 35 percent increase in the number of students receiving breakfast at school, up from about 136,000 children in October of 2010 to about 184,000 in April of this year, according to the report.
The report only evaluates school districts where more than 20 percent of the student population is eligible for the program.