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LITTLE ROCK — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC, a national anti-hunger advocacy group) released its annual School Breakfast Scorecard this week. The report, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the participation of students in the National School Breakfast Program, puts Arkansas at No. 6.

The National School Breakfast Program makes it possible for all school children in the U.S. to receive a nutritious breakfast every school day. The report from the FRAC found that 159,276 students from low-income families in Arkansas participated in school breakfast on an average school day in 2018–2019. As well, 99% of Arkansas schools that offer school lunch also offer school breakfast.

The report found that 66.5 low-income students in Arkansas ate school breakfast for every 100 who received free or reduced-price school lunch during the 2018–2019 school year. This represents a 0.8% increase over last year's numbers and is well above the national average of 57.5% of low-income children eating school breakfast for every 100 who received school lunch in the 2018–2019 school year.

School breakfast participation nationally has been growing. According to the report, on an average school day during the 2018–2019 school year, nearly 12.4 million low-income students participated in the National School Breakfast Program.

According to the Arkansas Hunger Alliance, school breakfast participation in Arkansas has been growing as well due to the use of alternative breakfast models, such as breakfast in the classroom, "grab and go," and second chance breakfast. Arkansas's ranking can be attributed in large part to the widespread implementation of Breakfast After the Bell programs and adoption of USDA's Community Eligibility Provision in which high-need schools can provide meals to all students at no charge.

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