Food Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the most important meal of the day: Breakfast! This is especially important to remember during the back to school season. A recent report by GENYOUth Foundation called The Wellness Impact, showed more evidence than ever supporting the connection between nutrition, physical activity and academic achievement.
But the reality is that many Massachusetts children don’t eat breakfast and this puts them at a huge disadvantage. In fact, our state ranks a dismal 42nd in the nation when you compare the number of students who eat school breakfast to those who eat free or reduced priced lunch.
There are many reasons that school breakfast is poorly attended- some kids would rather socialize than go to the cafeteria, others are on buses that arrive late, and in some communities, school breakfast may not even be offered. But, the good news is that there are strategies and programs out there to help make school breakfast more accessible and better utilized.
The Massachusetts School Breakfast Challenge is one of those programs. We’re asking school districts in MA to increase participation in School Breakfast by 35% by December of 2014. New England dairy farmers are proud supporters of this initiative and to date have contributed more than $120,000 in grants to help cover start-up costs associated with breakfast, such as equipment.
This year, the USDA’s revised nutrition standards for school breakfast programs go into effect. The new standards require school breakfast to be rich in fruits, whole-grains, low-fat dairy and even vegetables- so parents can feel good about sending their children to school breakfast, knowing they will be getting a nutritious meal.
In order for time in the classroom to be well-spent and productive, children need to be focused: hungry kids can’t learn. Celebrate Food Day 2013 in your school by fueling up with a healthy morning meal. For ideas on how to promote school breakfast, visit www.NewEnglandDairyCouncil.org.