Breakfast in the Classroom as a Strategy to Boost Academic Performance, Make the Most of Class Time

April 19, 2011

By Mark Bishop, Vice President of Policy and Communications

We’ve written about breakfast in the classroom programs in the past and why we support them, but it’s always interesting for me to learn why school districts all over the country are implementing these programs.

Good Hope Elementary in California recently implemented a breakfast in the classroom program and it’s being positioned part of the school's strategy to improve academic performance and ensure more time is spent on instructional time.

We know about the connection between a healthy breakfast and academic outcomes so it’s not surprising that this was top of mind for the school principal. She is quoted on her perspective that breakfast is part of the answer to improving performance, and she also went on to discuss the intangibles.

The principal says: “It creates a family atmosphere. It's important that students feel safe and like a community. All of that, that helps with learning.”

However, the part in this story that stuck with me is the part about instructional time. It does seem a little counterintuitive that adding a breakfast in the classroom is actually a strategy to maximize the time spent on learning. With breakfast in the classroom, there is a concern about loss of class time — but this school flipped that concern on its head. The principal explains:

“…in the program's first days, fewer students complained to the school nurse of stomachaches or hunger. Those students often are sent to the cafeteria for a mid-morning meal. All of that takes time away from class time.”

And on top of that, studies show that children who eat a well-balanced breakfast have fewer tardies and absences. So if keeping kids in the classroom is a priority, it does make sense that doing things to keep them healthy should be at the top of the list. Give the article a read. It may make you think about breakfast in a different way.