After the homeroom bell, Andreanna Jenkins, 17, rushed to a second-floor kiosk station to grab a quick breakfast from a cart.

During a brief break after her first-period class at Woodbury High School, Jenkins picked up the packaged breakfast that included a cheese stick, a whole-wheat loaf, and orange juice.

"I'm not really a morning person," said Jenkins, a junior. But she added: "When I don't eat breakfast, I have a slow day."

This Gloucester County district is among only a handful in New Jersey that offer breakfast to high school students during the first few minutes of the school day. Atlantic City High provides breakfast in the classroom during the first 10 minutes of the day.

The federally funded "breakfast after the bell" program was launched several years ago to entice more students to eat the most important meal of the day, without interrupting learning.

The approach has caught on at elementary schools, where breakfast is typically served in the classroom rather than the cafeteria.

High schools, however, have been slower to make the switch, with only about 12 percent of secondary schools serving breakfast after the bell, compared with nearly one-third of elementary schools, according to Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

"We're hoping more high schools will jump on the breakfast bandwagon," said spokeswoman Nancy Parello. "It's doable and it works."

Studies show that children who eat breakfast in school perform better academically, have fewer disciplinary problems, miss fewer class days, and make fewer visits to the school nurse than those who skip breakfast.

One out of five American children struggles with hunger, federal figures show. And three out of five teachers say they teach children who regularly come to school hungry, experts say.

About 15.3 million children lived with food insecurity in 2014 - lacking access to adequate food because of a dearth of money, according to Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity.

In Pennsylvania, a report last year by a national food research group found that only about 45 percent of low-income children who eat lunch at school in Pennsylvania also eat a school breakfast.

Some students say they skip breakfast because they are rushing out the door for an early school day. Others may not have food at home or have to get younger siblings ready for school.

"For some, this is it," said Woodbury school district spokeswoman Denise Currie. "They're rolling out of bed and coming here. They don't have time."

Under the "after the bell" program, breakfast is available to all students regardless of income. Federal funds cover the costs, eliminating any potential fiscal barrier for cash-strapped districts.

Learning isn't disrupted by breakfast, officials say. The state allows schools to count the breakfast period toward instructional time, if needed.

At Woodbury High School, about 60 percent of the 750 students are eligible for free or reduced-cost meals, said Kara Huber, district business administrator. This week, the district is launching a dinner program that will serve about 115 students in grades 6 through 10 in a new afterschool program.

"We truly believe that we have to feed kids' bellies before we feed their minds," Huber said. "If you're sitting here and your stomach is rumbling, your mind isn't on the classroom."

Four years ago, when breakfast was offered before the start of school, only about 12 percent of high school students showed up to eat, Huber said. About 60 percent now eat breakfast daily with the program, she said.

When the bell rings at 8:37 a.m. students stop briefly at kiosks located on each level of the three-story building where they grab a packaged meal, input their school identification code, and keep moving.

"Every day, it's something different on the menu," said Lisa Rosen, a breakfast server employed by Nutri-Serve Food Management, which provides the meals. "It's always something they can eat quickly or take with them for a snack for later."

On Thursday, students had a choice of two packaged meals: One included cereal boxes of reduced-calorie Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops, milk, apple juice, and crackers. The other had bite-size portions of French toast, cinnamon buns, pineapple slices, and apple juice.

From start to finish, it took only about 10 minutes to serve breakfast as students lined up at the kiosks and moved quickly. They had 14 minutes to eat breakfast in their homerooms, before the bell sounded and they moved to their next class period.

Students can leave behind anything they don't want in a nearby share bin. Their classmates are free to pick up an extra helping from the bin.

"Some of it is pretty good," said Keyshaun Christian, 17, a junior, as he munched on dry cereal in his homeroom.

Christian said he typically skips breakfast at home due to time. Some of his classmates rely on the meal at school, he said.

"Some people don't have money to eat breakfast," Christian said.

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