Students who eat breakfast show improved academic performance — including a general increase in math and reading scores; yet many Kentucky students don’t take advantage of the opportunity to eat breakfast at school.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Board of Education passed a resolution promoting participation in the school breakfast program and kicking off the Kentucky Breakfast Challenge.

While more than half of the state’s 650,000 public school students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, only 39 percent of Kentucky students participate in the school breakfast program.

As part of the Kentucky Breakfast Challenge, the Kentucky Department of Education’s Division of School and Community Nutrition is partnering with the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA) to work with districts on innovative ways to increase breakfast participation and encourage districts to consider alternative service options such as grab and go bags, in-class meals and meals served after the first class period. Grants to support this work will be funded by SUDIA as will cash prizes for winning districts in the Kentucky Breakfast Challenge.

The Division of School and Community Nutrition plans to highlight districts’ breakfast best practices during the School Nutrition Association’s National School Breakfast Week on March 3-7.