Skipping breakfast … we’ve all done it, especially when we start the day short on time with a long task list for the day ahead. As adults we know how skipping breakfast (including not drinking anything – like coffee or even water) feels – it can lead to headaches, the inability to concentrate, not to mention a rumbling digestive system and sluggishness. So eating breakfast daily is pretty important, right? Absolutely!
However, for many, including both kids and adults, skipping breakfast has become a bad habit. For kids, the habit of skipping breakfast is even more of an issue as it often impedes learning. When kids are hungry, their hunger and the accompanying symptoms of nausea and sluggishness is all they can think about. In other words, they are too hungry to learn.
School Breakfast Programs to the rescue!
In Oakland County, school breakfast programs fill the morning hunger gap for over 22,000 students each day! School breakfast meals provide balanced nutrition with a variety of whole grains, protein, fruit and milk including such items as whole grain bagels, fresh fruit, cereal w/ milk and fruit smoothies (just to name a few). Program expansion initiatives such as “Breakfast in the Classroom” in elementary buildings, breakfast kiosks in high schools and middle school buildings, as well as ” Breakfast after the Bell” programs (for kids that arrive late to school) all help to improve student access and consumption of breakfast at school. Providing healthy breakfast meals at school also helps kids to develop the habit of eating breakfast each day for improved learning and academic success.
Got hunger? Got trouble…
Research clearly shows kids who eat breakfast do better in school and regularly eating breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function. It’s also been noted breakfast consumption improves overall school attendance and standardized test scores are higher for kids who eat breakfast versus kids who don’t. However, research also shows the odds of getting below average grades actually DOUBLES for kids that routinely skip breakfast. The frequency (or habitual breakfast consumption) and the nutritional quality of breakfast foods definitely have a big impact on student nutrition intake and academic performance. There is no data that shows a negative impact of eating breakfast!
Schools across Oakland County and across the nation will celebrate National School Breakfast week March 5 – 9. I would encourage you take a minute and check out the school breakfast program offerings in your local school district. You’ll be surprised at the delicious, convenient and low cost breakfast meals available to kids that are designed to help support student learning and the habit of eating a morning meal. So, here’s to starting each day the healthy way ~ with school breakfast!
Lori Adkins is a child nutrition consultant for Oakland Schools. March is National Nutrition Month.