A national report released Tuesday by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) ranks Texas fifth among the states in school breakfast participation.

FRAC’s “School Breakfast Scorecard” measures state performance by looking at the number of low-income students eating school breakfast as a share of those who receive school lunch.

In Texas, 1.6 million low-income children ate breakfast at school last year, or 62 percent of the number receiving school lunch.

“Texas’ strong performance illustrates our commitment to ensuring every child starts the school day nourished and prepared to learn,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas.

In 2013, the Texas State Legislature boosted breakfast participation by requiring high-need schools to make it available to all students at no charge.

School breakfast participation in Texas increased by 2.6 percent last year compared to the 2012-13 school year.

“We are excited to see the legislation pay off in a significant way. This is especially true in the Dallas Independent School District, which expanded daily participation by almost 14,000 students,” said Cole.

Other top performers include the Houston and San Antonio Independent School Districts, which rank among the top-ten large school districts nationwide.

The benefits of school breakfast are well-documented, including higher test scores, less tardiness, and fewer disciplinary referrals.

“We urge school districts to continue their efforts to increase breakfast participation as a means to boost academic achievement and child health,” said Cole.

According to the scorecard, increasing overall participation in Texas to 70 percent (a rate already exceeded by the Dallas, Houston and San Antonio ISDs) would draw down an additional $51 million in federal child nutrition funding each year.

Congress is currently reviewing the federal child nutrition programs for possible changes. A bipartisan Senate bill awaiting a floor vote would largely protect and strengthen these programs.

The FRAC reports “School Breakfast Scorecard” and “School Breakfast – Making it Work in Large School Districts” will be available at www.frac.org.

Feeding Texas leads a unified effort for a hunger-free Texas. Learn more and find your local food bank at www.feedingtexas.org.