In a state considered relatively progressive in combating social ills, it may come as a surprise that Washington ranks 39th in the nation for getting free breakfast into the bellies of kids who need it.
Though combating childhood hunger has long been a priority for advocacy organizations and elected officials, a report released Monday by United Way of King County finds that fewer than half of students eligible for free-or-reduced-price meals are eating breakfast at school.
Meanwhile, the number of children qualifying for those meals has jumped by 153 percent since 2000, growing at nearly 14 times the rate of the overall student population. In Snohomish County, the rate has almost doubled.
“Despite the evidence that need has dramatically increased in Washington state, school breakfast programs, as currently utilized, are not responding to or meeting that need,” the authors note bluntly. “Many children [are] receiving no breakfast at all.”More