Written by Rick Parks Saturday, 29 July 2006 05:56
Excellence Begins with Breakfast
School breakfast is now more nutritious and more popular than ever. From sliced apples to yogurt, every school day morning about 9.2 million American children enjoy a healthy school breakfast. Traditional meal service in the cafeteria is still the most popular service method, but many schools are reaching out to students by offering breakfast in the classroom and “grab-n-go” meals from moving food carts and kiosks.
Today’s healthy school breakfast often includes servings of whole grains and fresh fruits, all part of meeting the federal nutrition guidelines based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that require 25% of the Recommended Daily Allowances for protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and calories. The School Nutrition Association (SNA) 2005 Trend Survey found that 55% of school districts surveyed made significant efforts to offer healthy school breakfasts in the past two years, with a further 25% making at least some effort to offer healthy breakfast choices.
Participation in the nation's School Breakfast Program rose to 9.2 million children during the 2004-2005 school year, the largest increase since the 1994-1995 school year. In Florida, some 500,000 school breakfast meals are served each day to students as part of the US Department of Agriculture’s School Breakfast Program, administered by the Florida Department of Education’s Food and Nutrition Management section.
According to Rick Parks, a Registered Dietitian from Crawfordville and a Florida Dietetic Association member, “Academic excellence and improved school performance is greatly influenced by a nutritious breakfast, and school breakfast is a convenient way for students and families to start their day off right.”
Research shows that children who eat breakfast have improved memory, problem-solving skills, verbal fluency, and creative abilities. Qualitative research, including studies conducted by Harvard University and the University of Minnesota, also point to improvements in standardized test scores in children who ate a school breakfast.
All public elementary and many secondary schools in Florida offer a school breakfast program with nutritious foods to all students. Students who qualify for free or reduced price lunches also qualify for free or reduced price breakfasts. To learn more about the School Breakfast Program, contact your local school.
Rick Parks earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health Nutrition and a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition, Dietetics from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Rick, his wife Sherry, and their three children moved to Crawfordville in the fall of 2002. For more information on health and nutrition, log onto the Florida Dietetic Association’s web site: www.eatrightflorida.org.
This article originally published on July 29, 2006.
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