This week is National School Breakfast Week. Almost every day we hear about how important the first meal of the day is. Without food in the morning, our children lack the energy they need to concentrate and learn. Schools recognize this by providing breakfast at all public schools in Florida and, in the majority of school districts, breakfast is universal and free to all students. All they have to do is show up to the cafeteria before school starts and a healthy first meal of the day is provided.
Why is it then that only about half of the children that participate in the National School Free and Reduced-Price lunch program (NSLP) also participate in breakfast?
National experts who have studied this issue, including the USDA, have concluded that often it is the timing and the location of breakfast in school that is the barrier.
Florida Impact to End Hunger, along with our partners No Kid Hungry Florida, the Diary Council of Florida, and the Florida Department of Agriculture all support alternative forms of breakfast service to encourage students to start their day with good nutrition.
Alternative breakfast models include Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab N’ Go Breakfast (students can grab a breakfast bag off a cart), or Breakfast After the Bell/Second Chance Breakfast (after first period).
Many schools will encourage breakfast participation this week by special events or guests. One of the best school breakfasts I ever attended was last year in Miami Gardens when Mayor Gilbert donned a hair net and manned the serving line (pictured above) which the kids loved. I have also seen school superintendents and parents participating in school breakfast.
All of these efforts are wonderful and raise awareness, but the are other steps to produce lasting change. Students need breakfast to be convenient and consistent in order to increase participation.
If you are involved with any school, please take a look at how they are getting this important morning meal to the students and encourage the school to consider some of the alternative meal service options to expand participation.
Florida Impact to End Hunger