It is no secret that in the last 10 years much emphasis has been placed on better nutrition in schools. Today, schools are at the forefront for addressing the urgent need for improved nutrition and physical activity.
Of all the steps that schools can take toward creating healthier, higher-achieving students, the implementation of school breakfast is perhaps the simplest and most cost-effective. Breakfast provides students with key nutrients and it improves brain function all morning.
Breakfast literally breaks the nightlong fast. If breakfast is skipped, the fast continues, which can place unnecessary stress on a developing body. Studies have shown that well-nourished students who skipped breakfast had adverse effects on attention and memory throughout the day.
There are several options for serving breakfast at school, but breakfast-in-the-classroom programs (after the morning bell has rung) have become an effective strategy for increasing overall participation in breakfast for many school districts nationwide. Kids eat together and enjoy well-balanced foods like breakfast wraps, yogurt, low-fat milk and fruit while the teacher takes attendance and collects homework. Grab ‘n’ go breakfast also make an easy offering, students pick up bagged meals with foods like yogurt and granola bars from a high traffic area and then can be eaten on the way to class, in the classroom or in another designated area.
Another reason to stress the importance of breakfast is that studies have indicated that participation in breakfast at school, particularly for those who are nutritionally at risk, results in:
- students being on time,
- missing less school and
- having better attention, behavior, math grades and standardized tests.
Parents are encouraged to find out if school breakfasts are offered at their child’s school and if not talk to the administration or school board and get the dialog going to promote school breakfast for students at every age.
For additional information on how you can help stress the importance of breakfast at schools see “The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments” at www.GENYOUthFoundation.org.
Written by Gayle Jennings, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, Memorial Medical Center.