By Jesus Mendoza, Jr., Regional Administrator of USDA Food and Nutrition Service
Economic hardship, hectic mornings for families, and inadequate nutrition education make receiving a healthy breakfast difficult for many of America’s children. Utilizing innovative United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Breakfast Program approaches, many schools are successfully providing students the initial daily meal they need in order to prevent obesity and achieve academic success.
The School Breakfast Program was authorized by Congress in 1975. Evidence-based studies prove that students have been benefitting from it ever since. The modern School Breakfast Program is easily tailored to meet the needs of all age groups, school schedules, and physical environments. As of 2012, 12.9 million children were served daily breakfast. Schools may consider options such as Traditional Breakfast, Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go, Breakfast After First Period, or Breakfast on the Bus to provide nutritious meals to children.
Good nutrition is as critical to a child’s overall success as the curriculum taught in our schools every day. A well-balanced breakfast offers an important nutritional foundation and charts the course for a healthier next generation. Through the California Department of Education-supported Breakfast First, many California schools have been highly successful in administering Breakfast in the Classroom in a way that pleases not only children, but parents, teachers, and administrators.
Initially, Breakfast in the Classroom was met with a moderate level of apprehension in the San Diego Unified School District. Teachers were concerned about the level of additional work program implementation might cause. It was left up to individual educators to determine what the children did during breakfast. Some allowed students to do their homework, others had children sit together at tables, socialize, and learn by helping one another. One second-grade teacher reported that soon after beginning Breakfast in the Classroom “…attendance rates were up, tardiness was down, and visits to the nurse for a stomach- or headache were nonexistent.” She continued to promote Breakfast in the Classroom as a favorable experience by stating that the entire process took a minimal amount of time while being an excellent way to prepare her students for their work day, build a sense of community, discuss food etiquette, and learn about nutrition. In 2014 California served 1,608,201 students breakfast statewide.
Jesus Mendoza is the Regional Administrator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, Western Regional Office.
For additional information, please go to:
1. Expanding Your School Breakfast Program: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sbp/expanding-your-school-breakfast-program
2. USDA School Breakfast Program: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/SBPfactsheet.pdf
3. Tom Torklakson release, Improving Student Nutrition and Academic Achievement Through School Breakfast Programs: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/el/le/yr12ltr0418.asp
4. Benefits of School Breakfast: http://bestpractices.nokidhungry.org/school-breakfast/benefits-school-breakfast
5. Breakfast First: http://breakfastfirst.org/successful-breakfast-models/classroom-breakfast/
6. FNS Wisconsin Serving Up A Successful School Breakfast Program: http://fns.dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/fns/pdf/suassbp.pdf