Food for thought: Don't let kids skip breakfast - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Food for thought: Don't let kids skip breakfast

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From: The State Department of Education;

Did you know that eating breakfast enhances a child's attention span and short-term memory, leading to an improvement in academic performance? However, despite the benefits of breakfast, it is the most commonly skipped meal of the day.

 

As the state's K-12 public school systems prepare to kick off the 2013-2014 academic year, the Alabama State Department of Education Child Nutrition Section (ALSDE) reminds parents to help "jump start" their child's day by making sure they eat a healthy morning meal. For those who may be pressed for time, most schools throughout the state offer flexible breakfast options that give students plenty of time to "eat and greet" before the first bell rings.

 

Breakfast eaters are found to be more content and have better moods than those who do not consume breakfast, according to The Nutritional and Academic Implications of Breakfast, a study prepared by the America Dairy Association and Dairy Council, Inc. In addition, the report concludes that:

 

  • Breakfast provides an important contribution to nutrient intake throughout the day and many studies have found a link between breakfast intake and lower weight. 
  • Children who eat breakfast at school are found to be more alert than those who do not eat breakfast. 
  • Eating breakfast has been associated with enhanced short-term memory among schoolchildren. 
  • Student's tardiness rates are typically lower and correspondingly attendance rates are typically higher for breakfast consumers compared with those students who skip breakfast. 
  • Overall academic and achievement scores are higher for students who consume breakfast more regularly than their peers who typically skip breakfast; the end result being an improvement in grades.

ALSDE Child Nutrition Coordinator June Barrett echoed the findings in the report. She said breakfast ignites a student's day and helps him or her to be more equipped and excited to delve into schoolwork and daily activities.

 

"By eating this crucial first meal of the day, students will be more engaged in the learning process and prepared for all academic realms," Barrett said.

 

Auburn City Schools and Huntsville City Schools have both received recognition for expanding their breakfast programs. The school systems have credited the initiative with helping to increase the number of children eating a healthy meal before the school bell rings, which, in turn, has raised students' productivity.

 

Barrett notes that many schools serve breakfast in the morning, and several are very creative in how they go about doing so. Some have set up breakfast carts or "Grab ‘n' Go" kiosks near the drop-off point for school buses and areas where students are likely to congregate before classes start.

 

"Grab 'n' Go" breakfasts are typically pre-packaged for students to quickly retrieve and take with them, allowing them to eat breakfast when and where they want, within school guidelines. Breakfasts are usually continental-type items, but often include hot items. Many students like this breakfast option because they get a nutritious meal and also have time to socialize with their friends in the morning, Barrett stated.

 

Some schools have received grants from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc., to start "Breakfast in the Classroom" programs, which allow students to eat breakfast in the classroom at the beginning of the day or during morning break time. Barrett said that most teachers take attendance or deliver announcements while their students are eating breakfast, so little instructional time is lost.

 

To see what type of breakfast offerings your child's school provides, visit your school's homepage, as well as Facebook and Twitter pages, if applicable, as oftentimes menus are posted there. School breakfast items are in compliance with federal guidelines for healthy meal options.

 

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