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July 25, 2014

Lutherans Support School Breakfast Challenge

Holly Hoffman is a Diaconal Minister at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Carlisle PA. This letter was published in the Patriot News in February 2014.

As a pediatrician, I am in full support of our local schools providing the opportunity for ALL students to eat breakfast before school. School breakfast programs support children’s health and education… basics that start children on the right path in life. Sadly, more than 16 million American children live with food insecurity. SNAP (food stamp) benefits have been cut twice in the last four months. Children make up nearly half of all SNAP recipients, and these cuts will no doubt make it harder for families to provide adequate nutrition for their children.

It is therefore critical that children be able to access school meals, particularly breakfast. Studies show that students who eat school breakfast have better attendance and 17.5% higher math scores then those who skip breakfast. They are 20% more likely to graduate which, in turn, enables them to earn an average of $10,000 more annually than non-graduates. Food insecurity also causes poor birth outcomes, poor physical and mental health outcomes, and childhood obesity.

Pennsylvania ranks 39th in the country for school breakfast participation. While 85 percent of our schools offer both lunch and breakfast, only 44 percent of eligible children take advantage of breakfast. This caused Pennsylvania to lose large amounts of federal funding. To improve participation, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has launched the Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge, offering options like “Breakfast in the Classroom “, “Grab & Go Breakfast” and “Second Chance Breakfast”. (see www.paschoolbreakfast.org.)

I applaud the local school districts that have entered the Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge. No matter which schools are the top finishers in May, there is no question that EVERYONE wins when we –students, teachers, and whole school communities– improve our school breakfast programs and support good student nutrition.

Holly C. Hoffman, MD
Carlisle Pediatric Associates
– See more at: http://www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/blogs/letter-to-the-editor-on-the-pennsylvania-school-breakfast-challenge/#sthash.Uzs1SZ4i.dpuf

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