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School Breakfast Helps Idaho Students Make the Grade in 2015

While the buzz about National School Breakfast Week, is now behind us, the reasons to expand morning meals at school sit in America’s classrooms every day. Many children are still coming to school too hungry to focus on their teachers and too hungry to learn. Three out of four public school teachers say that students regularly come to school hungry and 81% say this happens at least once a week. Educators report that hunger results in an inability to concentrate (88%); lack of energy or motivation (87%); poor academic performance (84%); and tiredness (82%).IMG_5760

Fortunately there are solutions.  In Idaho, school breakfast participation has been steady and Idaho rates 17 out of 51 in 2015. Many districts, including Boise and West Ada are working hard to increase participation with breakfast in the classroom, grab-n-go and other proven breakfast alternatives.

 Sadly, significant school breakfast gaps still exist for low-income children in many states. The just-released Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reinforces the importance of breakfast for young people noting that “[B]reakfast eating is associated with more favorable nutrient intakes compared to nutrient intakes from other meals or snacks. Adolescents and young adults are the least likely to eat breakfast, and targeted promotion efforts are needed to reach these groups. For children and adolescents, the school breakfast program is an important venue for promoting breakfast consumption and efforts are needed to increase student participation rates.”

IMG_5738As a mom and child nutrition expert, my mantra is simple. Breakfast. Every Child. Every Day. Research clearly shows that breakfast helps everyone be ready to succeed – and you probably make certain that your family enjoys these benefits every morning. I believe we all must go beyond our own families and support breakfast in every school – even if our kids eat at home.

(Please visit the schools breakfast facts and resources page for more information)

While your child may be able to opt out of a school breakfast program, their friends and classmates may not have that luxury for a myriad of reasons. Breakfast is a simple, cost-effective way for high-performing schools to help every child be well nourished and ready to learn. That’s a strategy that I support as a mom, a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a taxpayer.

 By: Dayle Hayes, MS, RD 

Dayle Hayes is an award-winning author and educator. As a parent and member of the School Nutrition Association, Dayle has dedicated decades to making school environments healthy for students and staff. She collected success stories for Making It Happen, a joint CDC-USDA project; wrote a chapter on communicating with students in Managing Child Nutrition Programs: Leadership for Excellence; and co-authored the 2014 Position of the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics: Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2 to 11 Years.