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School Breakfast at Half Century: A Look Back to Move Ahead

Janet Poppendieck, activist, author, professor emerita at Hunter College, co-founder of the NYC Food Policy Center, senior faculty fellow at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, and WhyHunger Board Member, reflects on her decades of research and advocacy to promote the School Breakfast Program in light of its 50th anniversary. Poppendieck examines the history, challenges, policy gains and role of advocacy in shaping the program. She lifts up this critical program, which provided 2.3 billion nutritious meals to America’s children last year, and its steady growth as possibly the best example of effective advocacy and productive cooperation between national anti-hunger organizations and state and local groups. Poppendieck reviews the program’s achievements, assesses the forces that have shaped it and identifies its promising innovations in a detailed analysis of the many policy shifts and leadership and advocacy efforts at state, local and national level. Through this analysis, Poppendieck identifies and highlights the lessons learned from decades of successfully building a robust, impactful program to offer a road map for next generation of activists tasked with keeping the health and nutrition of America’s children at the forefront of our Federal nutrition policy.