Nutrition, Education Success, And Tasty Foods? Sign Me Up!
March 6, 2013

Nutrition, Education Success, And Tasty Foods? Sign Me Up!

I love breakfast foods. I love eggs and cereal and fruits and bagels. I might just eat more eggs and cereal (I am a Cheerios kinda gal.) than most average Americans. I just love the way breakfast foods taste. I never miss breakfast. Heck, sometimes I eat breakfast foods for dinner. I just love them that much.

Whether I eat a bowl of cereal or a yogurt and piece of fruit or some eggs, I always eat breakfast. And I learned this as a child. My parents always fed us breakfast before school or provided money so that we could buy it at school. I do not think I missed a day of breakfast in elementary, junior high, and high school.

It turns out that was a good thing. A CNN article explained why on February 27, 2013. As they reported a new study conducted “by non-profit group Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign shows the positive effect that school breakfast can have on a child’s performance in class and on standardized tests, and what this can mean for their future.”

Accordingly, the study found that students who ate regular breakfast attended an average of 1.5 more days of school and had math scores averaging 17.5 percent higher than their meal-skipping counterparts. Furthermore, they were 20 percent more likely to graduate high school and less likely to experience hunger in adulthood. All four of these data points show just how important breakfast really is.

For students who cannot afford breakfast either at home or at school, the United States Department of Agriculture pays out cash subsidies to schools of $1.55 for free breakfast, $1.25 for reduced-price, and $.27 for paid breakfast. The idea is that this will help schools provide more breakfasts to those who need it. The problem is that only half of the 21 million eligible children are taking advantage of this program.

One reason preventing children from school breakfast is that most schools offer the meal before classes start, so children must be able to get to school early. For some children, this is impossible because they ride the bus or their parents or guardians simply cannot get them to school early enough.

Another reason is that they simply did not know that the program existed. This seems to be a marketing issue where schools just are not doing a good enough job informing students and parents that the school offers breakfast.

What a shame for these children when such evidence as that found by Share Our Strength’s study shows the serious benefits of breakfast. The Food and Action Center in conjunction with Florida Impact released information about the states that were most productive in providing school breakfasts. These schools had more options than just pre-class breakfast. In some cases, the schools allowed students to bring breakfast into their first class while others had on-the-go carts so that children could grab and go to class. Some others even had a second chance for students to eat breakfast after the first class of the day.

If breakfast really has such an impact that it increases math scores and graduation rates, then this is one meal we should insist all students have. Schools must find creative options to help their students eat more breakfast. Their future education and success depend on it. It doesn’t hurt that breakfast is oh-so good, too. Obviously, breakfast is more than just the most important meal of the day.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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