Needy kids eat lunch -- but not all get breakfast

Report says just half of qualified students get school breakfast

POSTED: 7:26 PM PST January 24, 2014    UPDATED: 7:47 PM PST January 24, 2014 
Kids need breakfast too
BEND, Ore. -

A new report by the  Food Research and Action Center says Oregon ranks 19th at making sure students who qualify for free or reduced lunch are also eating breakfast at school.

Nationally 51 percent of students who qualify eat breakfast, and in Oregon, 53 percent do. But in Bend-La Pine Schools,  only 43 percent of free or reduced lunch qualifiers also eat breakfast. 

"There's definitely a sector of students that would really feel the effects of not having a breakfast here," Juniper Elementary Principal Dan Wolnick said Friday.

But the question is: Are our schools doing enough to make sure all of those low-income students see the benefits of breakfast?
    
"We all know that students aren't going to be learning so well when they're thinking about how hungry they are," Wolnick said.

Studies show students who eat breakfast have a better chance of succeeding in school.

"That really helped and affected the test scores and the academics, for those kids to have a nourishing meal in the morning," said Katrina Wiest, Bend-La Pine's wellness coordinator.

Bend-La Pine Schools offer breakfast before the start of the school day. New Mexico, the top-ranked state in the report, has a different strategy. It's called "After the Bell."
  
"So what that means is breakfast is served at 10 a.m., or after recess," Wiest said.

In New Mexico, about 70 percent of needy students who eat lunch also eat breakfast. Bend-La Pine doesn't offer the After the Bell option, but they told NewsChannel that such a change is not out of the question.