New York state is missing out on nearly $80 million in federal reimbursement funds because of a low student participation in free- and reduced-price programs, according to a new report.

Only 28 percent of qualified students are eating free- or reduced-price breakfast, according to Hunger Solutions New York. The organization’s annual report contains a breakdown by county and school district of participation in breakfast programs.

The number of students who are eligible for these programs increased slightly from 1.5 million to 1.577 million. However, participation dropped from 29 percent the 2013-2014 school year, according to a news release.

The state also was ranked 39th in the nation for participation in free- and reduced-price breakfast and lunch programs with about 46.6 percent, according to the Food Research and Action Center. This is a drop from the state’s 38th-place ranking in 2013-2014.

Only 42 percent of children participated in both free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch. Schools that reach a 70 percent participation threshold, receive additional funding, which would have amounted to $79.6 million during the 2014-2015 school year.

The report also contains a breakdown by county and school district. Warren County had about 31 percent of qualified students eating free- or reduced-price breakfast. North Warren and Hadley-Luzerne were the highest at 41 percent each.

Washington County had 35 percent, with the top K-12 districts being 47 percent in Greenwich, 45 percent in Hartford and 42 percent in Whitehall.

Other area county participation rates include Saratoga County at 24 percent; Essex County, 36 percent and Hamilton County, 56 percent.

Hunger Solutions New York officials say in the report that students who eat breakfast at school perform better academically including on standardized tests, have fewer discipline problems and lead healthier lives.

To access the full report, click HERE

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