Why does your child need to eat toast with jam at school, in addition to completing that spelling test? Researchers say it all comes down to numbers, success in life and having a better day.
Last week was National School Breakfast Week across the U.S and kids are chowing down.
According to Diane Pratt-Heavner of the School Nutrition Association, studies have shown students who eat breakfast at school perform better on standardized tests and have improved attendance records, as well as better behavior and concentration.
“These findings come as no surprise to anyone who has struggled to focus on the task at hand due to a rumbling stomach,” Pratt-Heavner says.
School breakfast programs are popular, but there’s much room to grow. USDA data show 88,219 schools across the country currently offer the School Breakfast Program, while 95,568 serve the National School Lunch Program.
More schools could offer the programs that give students access to free or reduced-cost meals, but it’s all about numbers. Pratt-Heavner points out that it takes a significant investment of staff labor, food and supplies to get a breakfast program going, and coordination with school administration must go smoothly.
In addition to this, each school needs to have enough participants in the program to cover costs.
Want to help out? Even if your family is able to provide a consistent, healthy breakfast at home each day for your child, your participation in a breakfast program can benefit other students who don’t have that daily opportunity.
Menus With Variety
Every parent wants their child to eat well. Your child is guaranteed to get a healthy, tasty meal to start the day at school, through a program. School breakfast programs are required to meet national standards that limit fat, calories and sodium while offering students an appetizing variety of healthy choices. These include everything from low-fat milk and fruits, to vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
And the program can work for anyone. They’re a great way for students who need the extra nutrition to get it, and they’re also beneficial for those who are simply, well, busy. Have early morning sports practice each day? Is your child never hungry before they leave home in the morning? Sign them up. The choice is out there.
“Many parents aren’t aware of all the school cafeteria has to offer,” says Pratt-Heavner.
“(They) would be surprised to see how much school menus and service options have changed in recent years – it’s worth visiting the cafeteria or checking out the menu to learn more.”
For hot topics related to school meal programs, and more facts on school meals nationwide, visit Tray Talk.org.
To post your school’s breakfast week events this year, check out Facebook.
Photo credits: spass/Shutterstock.com