Does anyone remember that catchy advertising phrase for Wheaties cereal? At Portage Township Schools, we certainly embrace that sentiment but with a little twist, we fix breakfast for our champions: our students.
Every day school is open we offer breakfast at all 12 of our cafeterias. We like to help start the day right for all our students, from kindergarten to high school, with a nutritious and healthy breakfast. It has been proven in numerous studies that breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day. Research suggests that school breakfast participation improves the academic, health and economic futures of America's students. We want to ensure students have the nutrition they need to succeed.
Adults know that when our stomachs start growling and we experience the gnawing sensation of hunger pangs, we need to eat. Our students feel the same way and sometimes aren’t aware of what they need. After eating a healthy breakfast, we see fewer early morning trips to the nurse, more attentiveness in the classroom and better attendance. Once our hunger is satisfied, we can concentrate on our daily tasks and our “champions” can, too.
The USDA School Breakfast program was established in 1966, and Portage Townships Schools has been a part of that program for at least 20 years. According to the School Nutrition Association, breakfast participation has risen steadily over the years, with a national average growth of 6.9 percent annually. Currently, 10.6 million children in the United States enjoy breakfast at school.
Everyone can agree on the importance of breakfast to student achievement, yet too many children don’t eat in the morning. Dora Rivas, SNA past president, said, “The morning routine for many families can be so hectic and some children just aren’t hungry before they leave for school. Knowing that your child can eat a healthy breakfast once they get to school can be a huge relief for parents.” The breakfast program is critical to maintaining the health and well-being of children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, and it provides a great alternative for children who can’t eat breakfast at home.
School breakfast provides the necessary energy to start a busy day of learning and accomplishment, providing 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance of protein, calcium, iron, vitamins A and C along with calories that meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Starting this year, half of all grains served with school breakfast must be whole grain rich, and must meet the new calorie ranges and limits on trans fats. Ready-to-eat whole grain cereals, low-fat yogurt and milk, whole grain toast and fruit are just a few of the choices that can be part of a nutritious breakfast.
We welcome your “champions” into our cafeterias, to start their day right with a healthy and nutritious breakfast.