Breakfast fuels greatness — on and off the field or court

Do you eat breakfast? The No Kid Hungry 2015 Hunger in Our Schools report is out, and it suggests you may not.

What’s the big deal with skipping breakfast? The simple answer is that hunger starts at breakfast. And every day, educators and administrators across the United States work with students who can’t learn because of hunger.

Breakfast is important for all students – for success in athletics and academics and for overall health – providing both energy and critical nutrients your body needs to perform at its best.

Participation in school breakfast programs does more than reduce student hunger; research shows that improved nutrition, including daily breakfast, and increased physical activity can lead to improved academic performance.

Students who eat breakfast tend to ...

  • Have improved test scores
  • Exhibit better behavior
  • Visit the clinic/school nurse less often
  • Have better overall attendance
  • Meet more of their nutrient needs
  • Have more favorable weight-related outcomes (e.g. lower BMI, lower waist circumference, lesser likelihood of being chronically obese) in the short- and long-term compared to those who skip breakfast
  • Start the day ready to learn!

Milk remains a core component of the school meal program. When compared to other drinks, milk is the single largest contributor of beneficial nutrients and the number one food source of calcium, potassium and vitamin D in student’s diets.

According to the 2015 Hunger in Our Schools report, a majority of educators (59 percent) say “a lot or most” of their students rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition. Connecting kids to programs such as school breakfast helps ensure they get the healthy food they need to learn and grow.

But just offering breakfast is not enough. A recent report released by the Food Research and Action center (FRAC) revealed that of those Colorado students currently participating in school lunch, only 50 percent also participate in school breakfast.

Whether low participation is due to the stigma associated with eating breakfast in the cafeteria or for reasons of timing, the problem is usually tied back to the way that breakfast is served in many schools. Alternative breakfast programs, those programs that offer breakfast outside of the cafeteria, provide an answer to this increasing dilemma.

Can you play a role in the solution?

Be a champion for breakfast by advocating for the following alternative breakfast programs if one is not already in place in your school ...

  • Breakfast in the Classroom – delivered to each classroom for all students to enjoy during attendance, morning announcements and warm-up exercises.
  • Grab ‘n’ Go Breakfast – served from carts located throughout the school hallways and near entrances for easy access to students as they head to class.
  • Breakfast on the Bus – a grab ‘n’ go breakfast is offered to students as they load the bus.
  • Breakfast after 1st period – often utilized at the secondary level to appeal to students who might not be hungry first thing in the morning.

Do you tend to skip breakfast? Take our quiz to find out what kind of breakfast skipper you are and get solutions to the “skipper” dilemma.

Athletes can train harder and perform better with proper nutrition. Visit WesternDairyAssociation.org to read more about milk as an exercise recovery beverage and learn how to eat for peak athletic performance.