Last year it was lunch; this year it is breakfast. The USDA has taken another big step in serving healthy food at school. The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 will mean that starting this 2013 school year, our kids will be offered a healthy start to the school day with fruits, whole grains, juice and low- or no-fat milk.
Our schools face the challenge of balancing a budget while delivering quality food and education. Can we know if supplying breakfast to our children at school supports their education enough to justify it? To begin, let’s look at the facts.
When a child arrives to a classroom without having eaten breakfast, it has an effect. Issues can occur such as behavior problems, lack of concentration and attention, lower cognition and memory, errors, visits to the nurse’s office, tardiness and even absenteeism.
However, when a student eats a nutritious breakfast, these problems are alleviated and even reversed, placing the student in a strong position for education and learning. The truth is that serving breakfast to students at school can be one of the most simple and cost-effective ways to support them in learning and functioning in the school environment. Fortunately, with innovative programs partnering with schools to supply breakfast to children, such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab-and-Go breakfast program, and even weekend “backpack” food programs, a goal of well-nourished children at school can be achieved.
The availability of a nutritious breakfast can change a student’s day for the better. It is clear that school breakfast programs for our children are well worth the money to ensure that children from all income levels adopt healthful eating habits that will serve them well for a lifetime.
Burrington is 5-2-1-0 study coordinator at the Bassett Research Institute.