National School Breakfast Week

By Mary Nicholson

Once again, it’s time to celebrate School Breakfast Week, and this year’s theme is The Search for Super Energy. The “School Breakfast Detectives” campaign allows students to “clue into” the importance of school breakfast and will demonstrate how eating school breakfast sets you up for a busy day at school.

This fun private-eye themed campaign has a design contest and a number of nutrition puzzles so kids can become school breakfast detectives for themselves.

National School Breakfast Week was launched in 1989 to raise awareness of the availability of breakfast at school.  Not every school has the ability to offer breakfast at school, but for those who do, it’s a great opportunity that’s sometimes overlooked or underutilized.  We’ve all heard “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and it is so true.  Not only does it provide you with fuel for your brain first thing in the morning, studies are showing that breakfast skippers are twice as likely to be overweight.  And when breakfast is missed, the nutrients that are missed are not made up during the day.  One study ( Lluch, Physiol & Behav 2000; 68:515) noted that skipped energy at breakfast is not made up —   hunger, preoccupation with food and food cravings linger — even at day’s end.

So can you imagine how hard it might be for a student who hasn’t had breakfast to concentrate and try to learn? Missing breakfast puts children’s health and academic performance at risk. Research shows that consuming breakfast, particularly school breakfast, improves the nutritional quality of children’s diets. Consuming breakfast can help children and adolescents increase their intake of the five “nutrients of concern” (i.e., nutrients limited in their diets) identified by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) provide three (i.e., calcium, magnesium, potassium) of these five nutrients, while fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide the other two (i.e., vitamin E and fiber).

Innovative breakfast service outlets – such as providing breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go” breakfast service from carts or kiosks in school hallways or cafeterias or in the classroom, and breakfasts after first period for middle- and high-school students – have been shown to increase school breakfast participation. The Food Research and Action Center’s recent survey of 23 urban school districts found that school breakfast  participation rates were higher when universal free school breakfast programs were implemented and when schools provided alternative service methods such as breakfast in the classroom and “grab and go” breakfasts.

Does your school serve breakfast?  If it does, check it out!  You might be surprised has easy it can make your mornings.

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