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Many Wisconsin families with school age children are beginning to review their back-to-school supply lists. Pencils, notebooks–and don’t forget breakfast, eaten either at home or at school.
Research shows that breakfast is an integral component of academic success. “There are consistent benefits of eating breakfast every day,” says Mary Lestrud, WI Nutrition Education Program Coordinator with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. “The evidence indicates that children who eat breakfast succeed academically and have fewer behavior and discipline problems.”
In addition to breakfast’s contribution to cognitive skills, studies also suggest that children and families who eat breakfast regularly are less likely to be overweight than those who do not eat breakfast, says Lestrud. Eating breakfast helps control hunger, minimizing the temptation to overeat throughout the day. It also provides necessary energy to the brain, improving efficient functions and allowing for good concentration skills.
Despite the proven benefits, many school age children don’t eat breakfast. Lack of time, erratic morning schedules, lack of economic resources, and limited access to healthy foods may contribute to low breakfast consumption for many families in Wisconsin.
“If a school offers a school breakfast program, it is a great option for ensuring students have access to a healthy meal in the morning,” says Lestrud. Breakfasts served at schools must meet specific nutrient requirements and provide healthy, balanced meal choices for students.
Across the state, 74 percent of schools offer breakfasts serving hot or cold breakfasts to any student who wants to participate in the program. “Contrary to popular belief, the school breakfast program does not just serve low-income students; regardless of household income, all students can and do take advantage of eating breakfast at school,” says Lestrud.
“Knowing if your child’s school offers the school breakfast program is good information for families,” she says. “Parents and families are influential in matters of nutrition and school meals. It is not uncommon for a school to start a breakfast program in part because of their parents’ support for it,” adds Lestrud.
As a way to reach out to parents, families, and communities about the benefits of the school breakfast program, a new video was created in partnership with the Department of Public Instruction, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, and the University of Wisconsin-Extension. The video showcases four local school districts and their breakfast programs. It is designed to be widely shared at events and meetings of school boards, school wellness committees, communities, and Parent/Teacher Associations.
View the video at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHR7eECbKaE
For more information and suggestions about breakfast and school breakfast, contact St. Croix County UW-Extension office at 715-531-1930 and the Wisconsin School Breakfast Programs website at http://fyi.uwex.edu/wischoolbreakfast/.
The Department of Public Instruction School Breakfast website also contains information about Wisconsin’s school breakfast programs here: http://fns.dpi.wi.gov/fns_sbp1.