Do you have a child who attends a pre-school or child care program? Now, your child may be entitled to a free school breakfast program as a result of a bill recently signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy that gives thousands more New Jersey kids a healthy start to their school day. Plainfield’s Second Street Youth Center is proud of its history of providing a healthy breakfast to its students even before these new efforts.

The new law requires schools with at least 70 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals to provide breakfast. Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) estimates that 500 schools educating nearly 308,000 students will be required to serve breakfast “after the bell.”

Student participation in the federal School Breakfast Program has increased 81 percent since 2010 – the year before the launch of the New Jersey Food For Thought Campaign. This means that about 110,000 more children are receiving school breakfast each day, pushing the state from nearly last in the nation to 19th in 2017. As a result, New Jersey school districts have more than doubled the federal dollars they receive to provide breakfast from $47.5 million in fiscal year 2011 to an estimated $110 million in in fiscal year 2019.

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School breakfast programs have long had the issue of serving “before the bell” which means that students need to arrive early to participate. Bus schedules, time constraints, early start times and other issues prevent many from participating. Now with the approach of breakfast “after the bell,” the breakfast programs will have wider participation.

The Second Street Youth Center (SSYC) serves 210 children daily through its pre-school program and another 90 children in after-school. Director Leah Dade feels as though breakfast after the bell approach boosts breakfast participation and ensures all children begin their day with nutrition they need to concentrate and learn. SSYC is a proud participant in this program which is complemented by a lunch and healthy snack program for all  its students.

After 50 years in operation, this past September SSYC relocated to 200 Plainfield Avenue (corner of South Second Street) a brand new state of the art facility. SSYC is always seeking community support and participation in its programs. In fact, on Tuesday, November 27, SSYC will participate in Giving Tuesday where people from all across the nation have the opportunity to make a donation to a non-profit organization of their choice. Please visit our website (www.ssycfoundationinc.org), on Facebook (under SSYC Foundation)  or contact Program Assistant Jeff Scheckner at 908-561-0003 ext. 138 or jscheckner@ssycfoundationinc.org.