State Superintendent Randy Dorn visited Auburn today, to have breakfast with a group of kindergartners from Washington Elementary.
His appearance marked the statewide kick-off of the "Fuel Up First with Breakfast Challenge."
While nearly half of all students in Washington qualify for free lunches, only a third of those eligible actually take advantage of the program. And, in our state, kids in kindergarten thru third grade are also eligible to get breakfast at either a reduced price or for free.
Nutritional studies suggest that eating a good breakfast contributes to increases in academic performance and reductions in behavior and obesity rates.
Research also shows that 10-percent of elementary-aged children, 25% of junior high schoolers and 30-percent of high school students start the day without breakfast.
Dorn is concerned a program to subsidize the breakfast program for low income youngsters is one of the programs on the chopping block if a special session is called to address further needs to cut the budget. Earlier this month the Governor asked state agency and department heads to start thinking about ways to cut another 10-percent from their budgets. The Superintendent says more cuts would further undermine the state's ability to provide students with a quality education.
Meantime, a soon to be published study out of the University of Washington shows the number of kids living in poverty is actually higher than it was when the War on Poverty began more than forty years ago. According to research from the Evans School of Public Affairs, a decline in wages for low-skill workers and an increase in households headed by single women are to blame. Additionally, Professor Robert Plotnik found the interplay between earnings, education and demography has resulted in about 14-percent of the U.S. population is consistently stuck in poverty. Plotnik's findings are set to be published in the 2012 "Handbook of the Economics of Poverty" (Oxford Press).