CFF_2017_03.09_school breakfast program

Students eating breakfast/Photo credit: USDA

The number of benefits of children who eat breakfast keep piling up.

Children who eat breakfast have higher academic achievements, better attendance records, and display fewer behavior problems

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations for people aged 2 years or older state that a healthy eating pattern include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, a variety of protein foods and oils.  Through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also set standards for schools to meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements.

The benefits of eating breakfast

Children who eat breakfast outperform peers who don’t eat breakfast. On the other hand, children who skip breakfast lack the ability to learn and develop. According to studies, children who skip breakfast have higher rates of absenteeism, tardiness, poor attention to tasks and reduced test scores.

Children who skip breakfast and eat snacks to make up for the missed meal,  miss getting their essential nutrients.  According to a 2010 Family Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, children tend to snack either after school, before dinner, or while watching TV.

Celebrating School Breakfast

National School Breakfast Week launched in 1989, helps raise awareness of the availability of the School Breakfast Program (SBP) to all children. The  School Breakfast Program which began in 1966 as a pilot program, and permanently authorized in 1975, was put in place to help children eat healthy.

According to the USDA, the number of children who are eligible to participate in the School Breakfast Program is less than children who participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Steps to increase enrollment of eligible Pennsylvania students

Pennsylvania is moving to steadily in ensuring that all eligible students receive breakfast, but still needs progress  According to the “School Breakfast Scorecard 2015” issued by the national Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Pennsylvania ranks 41st nationally. A lower percentage of Pennsylvania students who eat in the National School Lunch Program program participate in school breakfast. Only 45 percent of low-income children in Pennsylvania who eat school lunch participate in the School Breakfast Program.

The Pennsylvania School Breakfast Partners Group has held two breakfast challenges to highlight the importance of school breakfast and offered incentives to schools that make meaningful changes to increase student access to school breakfast.

To learn more about the School Breakfast Challenge, go to: Coalition Against Hunger

If you liked this post, you might want to read:                                                                          4 Ways Children Can Benefit From the Summer Food Service Program

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