We all want our children to succeed. It’s an important value and one the entire country can rally around. This March we’re redoubling our efforts to that commitment by celebrating National Nutrition Month and the importance of raising a healthier generation of kids.
It’s our collective responsibility to ensure the next generation has access to healthier meals. USDA and the Obama administration support a nutritious diet by making the healthy choice the easy choice in our schools. And for good reason…
Our nutrition assistance programs, such as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, provide children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy lifestyles for the long term. To make this happen, it’s imperative we teach our nation’s children how to enjoy well-balanced meals, stay physically active and maintain healthy lifestyles so they learn, grow and achieve their full potential. They deserve to learn to make the choices that set them up for success and better position them to achieve their dreams.
Dreams need to be nurtured though. And USDA feels strongly that no child should start the school day hungry. Research reveals that students who consume breakfast make greater strides on standardized tests, pay attention and behave better in class. They also tend to be less frequently tardy, absent or visiting the nurse’s office when they’ve got breakfast in their stomachs. That’s why we’re so dedicated to this program. In fact, over the seven-year period from 2008 through 2014, total participation in the School Breakfast Program has grown 27.8 percent.
The principal goal of our School Breakfast Program is to provide schoolchildren access to a nutritious start to the day, one that promotes both healthy eating and learning readiness. We understand that not all children are able to eat breakfast at home. Whether it’s a family’s tight budget or an issue of being too busy, not all children get the energy and nutrients they need for a healthy beginning to their day. The modern School Breakfast Program is designed to address those realities and is structured to meet the needs of all ages, schedules and physical environments. Schools can even consider creative options like grab and go kiosks or Breakfast in the Classroom to accommodate their students’ circumstances.
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) offers another opportunity for schools with a large percentage of low-income students to serve free meals to all their students. CEP helps cut back on paperwork for schools, while boosting access to nutritious breakfasts for students in need.
To highlight these priorities, we recognize the first week of March (March 2 – 6) as National School Breakfast Week. The celebration underscores the important nutritional foundation breakfast provides and the role the program serves in charting a healthier course for our kids.
During this time we’re also celebrating International School Meals Day on March 5. The day raises awareness of the importance of food and nutrition in education and invites schools, teachers and students across the globe to share their school feeding experiences. Themed “Celebrate Culture through Food,” the event helps draw the connection between a culture and its food.
Good nutrition is as critical to a child’s overall success as the curriculum that our schools teach every day. At USDA, we’re focused on strengthening the future of America by improving the health of our nation’s children. And why not, they deserve it!
To learn more about FNS nutrition assistance efforts, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usdanutrition