WASHINGTON — West Virginia leads the nation in school breakfast participation for the fourth year in a row, according to the latest study from poverty non-profit organization.

The Food Research and Action Center released its annual School Breakfast Scorecard Tuesday, in which more than 85 low-income students in West Virginia receive a school breakfast for every 100 pupils who participate in school lunch. This was a six-point increase from 2016.

West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steven Paine said state and community governments have worked together to ensure students receive a breakfast.

“Research shows that school breakfast leads to improved diet, reduced food insecurity, better test scores, improved student health, and fewer distractions in the classroom, especially for our most vulnerable students,” he said in a statement.

A press release from the state Department of Education said the increase of breakfast participation is because of increased services and offering breakfast at no cost.

More than 12 million low-income students nationally participate in the school breakfast program. Participation has increased, though the rate of growth has decreased from 390,000 more students a year to 70,000 additional students a year.

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