New Mexico is top in the country for the number of low-income students receiving breakfast, according to a report by a national anti-hunger lobbying organization.
The ranking is based on the ratio of kids participating in the school breakfast program to kids participating in the school lunch program.
In New Mexico, 70.2 school children receive breakfast for every 100 that receive lunch, according to the Food Research and Action Center's 2011-2012 data.
That's up from 63.5 in the 2010-2011 school year and 60.8 in the 2009-2010 school year.
New Mexico's high ranking comes from the "Breakfast after the Bell" program, approved by the state Legislature in 2011, said Las Cruces Public Schools nutrition director Nancy Cathey.
"That's really what made us hit that No. 1 spot," Cathey said.
Elementary and middle schools with 85 percent or more students certified for free or reduced-price lunches must provide breakfast under the program unless the school receives a waiver.
Seventeen elementary schools in the district and Lynn Middle School participate in the program, Cathey said.
"Children who have eaten breakfast are better students," Cathey said. "They learn better in the classroom, they're more focused."
More than 120,000 New Mexico students receive free and reduced-price breakfasts, up 13 percent from about 108,000 in the 2010-2011 school year.
The District of Columbia ranked second in breakfasts served with 69.5 per 100 students,
followed by West Virginia at 65.
Utah has the lowest participation with 33.9 per 100 students.
Lindsey Anderson can be reached at 575-541-5462.
By the Numbers
The number of low-income students participating in the school breakfast program per 100 kids participating in the school lunch program:
-- No. 1: New Mexico, 70.2 students per 100
-- No. 2: District of Columbia, 69.5
-- No. 3: West Virginia: 65.0
-- No. 4 South Carolina: 63.4
-- No. 5: Kentucky: 61.3
-- No. 47: Hawaii, 39.6 students per 100
-- No. 48: Iowa, 39.0
-- No. 49: Nebraska, 38.9
-- No. 50: New Hampshire, 38.2
-- No. 51: Utah, 33.9
Source: Food Research and Action Center
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