National Nutrition Month: The Importance of Breakfast!
March 24, 2016
March is National Nutrition Month! To celebrate, we’ve invited our friends at Action for Healthy Kids to share some information on nutrition with us. The following comes from Ellen Dillon, Regional Field Manager with AHK.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” Unfortunately, not all children start their day with a healthy breakfast. Did you know that one in five children are from homes that lack the means to consistently provide nutritious food leading to hungry children? That’s 4 out of 20 students in an average classroom. This doesn’t include the children who don’t eat breakfast due to lack of time or prefer to not eat early in the morning. Add those additional hungry kids to the classroom and there are even more hungry kids in the average classroom.
Imagine trying to learn and stay focused when you are hungry. Kids are just like adults, they suffer from lack of attention, focusing on when the next meal will occur, headaches and stomach aches, and sleepiness. Providing students an opportunity to grab a school breakfast and go to their classroom or have breakfast delivered to the classroom increases participation and can result in greater academic success for all students. Students who eat a school breakfast do better on standardized test, attend school more often, have fewer behavior issues and have fewer visits to the school nurse. Kids are sitting in class and ready to learn.
The AFHK Breakfast Impact Report highlights how Action for Healthy Kids has impacted school breakfast in schools around the country leading to more meals being served, feeding more hungry children, and improving the opportunity for academic success for over 1.1 million of students since 2009. Take a moment to read the report, investigate your school’s breakfast environment and consider if the distractions in your classroom or your child’s class could be alleviated by helping students gain access to breakfast with breakfast in the classroom, grab and go or some other alternative to breakfast in the cafeteria. Grants are available to help make the alternative a reality at your school.
SCHOOL BREAKFAST BEST PRACTICES
- Kiosks or carts placed in strategic locations allow students to take their breakfasts with them and eat in their classroom, increasing participation especially among middle and high school students.
- Offering universal breakfast with breakfast in the classroom can maximize participation and streamline service.
- State legislative or local mandates supporting breakfast after the bell provide a catalyst for change.
- Community eligibility is a proven method for districts or schools with high free and reduced meal rates to eliminate the need to collect and process applications. Providing free meals for all students also removes the stigma around eating school breakfast.