Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I have to agree especially when it comes to children. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast helps keep kids alert and focused on learning rather than lunch. But not every child eats a nutritious breakfast at home. In fact, even though 32 million students participate in the National School Lunch Program each day, only 12 million students eat a school breakfast daily. That means we have to continue to work to get those school breakfast numbers up!
One school I recently visited, Lake Forest Elementary School in Sandy Springs, Ga., is already doing their part to increase the number of kids eating breakfast at school. Lake Forest encourages kids to grab a breakfast in the cafeteria and to take it to their first class to eat. It seems to be working too because Lake Forest Elementary School has an average daily breakfast participation rate of just over 68 percent compared to a statewide number of just under 35 percent.
Last December, the President signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act into law, and it establishes requirements for promoting the School Breakfast Program to students. USDA is working with schools on innovative delivery strategies such as breakfast on the bus, grab ‘n’ go breakfast and breakfast in the classroom. I’m excited to see schools like Lake Forest Elementary already embracing these kinds of efforts.
I was amazed at the bright, cheerful faces of first grade students in teacher Jo Brekke’s class enjoying their whole wheat pancake, whole grain cereal, low-fat milk, and fruit juice, at their classroom tables. The second graders in teacher Mikelle Caine’s advance class I visited were listening to soft, classical music while they munched on their breakfasts and calmly worked on their assignments. When I asked one child what she liked best about breakfast, an enthusiastic “pancakes” was the answer.
Not only did the children seem to enjoy their breakfast, but they were also enjoying their class work, barely taking the time to notice I was even there. It definitely makes this job worthwhile to see kids starting their school day with a nutritious breakfast thanks to the School Breakfast Program.