National School Breakfast Week, celebrated this year on March 7th through March 11th, emphasizes the importance of good nutrition for a good education.
According to the School Nutrition Association's website, www.schoolnutrition.org, a nutritious breakfast can "improve a child's performance in academics, extracurricular activities and sports." In other words, if a child is sluggish, slow and concentrating on the empty stomach, he or she cannot focus on the task at hand and cannot excel in the lesson because of the distraction.
The American Dietetic Association reports, "Studies show that kids who miss breakfast don’t do as well in the classroom and are tardy more often. Breakfast eaters also have better hand-eye coordination and verbal fluency."
I was reading a news article about studies recently conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Ronald Kleinman and Dr. J. Michael Murphy. They found that students who began regularly eating breakfast showed increases in math grades while experiencing decreases in certain health problems such as depression and anxiety.
If children are unable to get nutritious breakfasts at home before they go to school, the opportunity to start a healthy day is available at almost all local schools. Health officials and organizations like the Hunger Action Network of New York State report that in this State, almost all public schools are part of the federally assisted meal programs that provide nutritious meals to children.
Casey Dinkin, child nutrition outreach assistant with the Nutrition Consortium of New York State, wrote in her recent Leader-Herald Letter to the Editor that the School Breakfast Program is currently operating in 94 percent of schools in Fulton and Montgomery counties. According to the Hunger Action Network, "through the School Breakfast Program, 7.5 million children are eating breakfast in more than 72,000 schools. More than 27 million children are eating school lunches through the National School Lunch Program in over 97,000 schools."
It is often noted that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this holds true for both children and adults. Eating breakfast can help people be more alert and productive, and have more energy. Teaching children good eating habits can provide lifelong benefits.