It’s National Breakfast Week!

March 07, 2007

by Jean Saunders, HSC School Wellness Director

Dieticians and other health professionals have been telling us for more than 40 years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After fasting for eight hours or more, our bodies need to be refueled to operate at maximum performance.

The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is celebrating the importance of eating breakfast by designating this week (March 5-9) as National School Breakfast Week. The SNA offers many resources to help promote the importance of breakfast. Here’s more information about National Breakfast week, specific to Illinois schools.

Daily, more than 8.4 million children in 72,000 schools are served breakfast through the School Breakfast Program (SBP). The Childhood Hunger Relief Act (Public Law 094-0981) mandates all public schools in which at least 40 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches to provide a breakfast meal. The SBP provides cash assistance to states to operate nonprofit breakfast programs in schools and residential childcare institutions.

Eating breakfast affects school performance. According to the SNA:

Research shows that children who eat breakfast have improved memory, problem-solving skills, verbal fluency and creative abilities. According to data from the Bogalusa Heart Study, kids who skip breakfast rarely make up for the missed nutrients during the day. Qualitative research, including studies conducted by Harvard University and the University of Minnesota, also point to improved standardized test scores in children who ate a school breakfast.

Check out this great resource developed for schools by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). It explains the importance of breakfast and provides ideas for encouraging students to eat breakfast.