Breakfast is known as the most important meal of the day, but just how much does a healthy breakfast mean to a household with students returning to class? Nutrition experts at the Crim Fitness Foundation recommend a balanced morning meal.
“Breakfast is important for everyone to kick start their metabolism after fasting all night, but it’s especially important for school-age children to get their brains going for school,” says Sarah Schroeder, Crim nutrition program coordinator. “Studies have shown that kids who eat breakfast do better on tests and have a better overall performance in school. While anything is better than nothing when it comes to breakfast, try to choose a balanced meal with three food groups, high in fiber, and low in added sugar.
High fiber will keep kids full longer, so they’re less likely to get distracted by a rumbling stomach, according to Schroeder.
“Foods high in added sugar will give kids a burst of energy at first, but will make them crash and is not recommended,” says Schroeder.
Research also shows a link between healthy morning meals and improved student behavior.
Schroeder’s colleague at the Crim, Sara Duncan says all Flint public school students have access to free breakfast and are encouraged to take advantage of it.
“The free breakfast program gives students access to food in the morning which prepares their mind and body for learning,” Duncan says. “Whether food is scarce at home or if they didn’t get up in time to eat, students are able to start the day off with a nutritious breakfast that will wake up their brain for learning and fill their stomach so they can focus.”
Encouragement from parents is a good idea, she adds.
“When students return home from school parents can engage their kids by showing interest in what choices were made: ‘What did you choose for breakfast? What were some of the other options? Was there anything new you might try next time? Is there anything you would like to have available to eat at the house?’” Duncan says.
“Parents can also model eating breakfast at home, especially on the weekends. Breakfast is important every day.”
Duncan also recommends that families support school breakfast initiatives by learning more about available resources.
“Parents can also ask to be on their school or district wellness committee if they have one, or learn what community partners facilitate health or nutrition programming on site, and connect with them to begin a conversation,” says Duncan
Editor’s Note: Schools send school meal applications home at the beginning of each school year. However, you may apply for school meals any time during the school year by submitting an application directly to your school or district. You may ask for an application any time during the school year. If you’re earning at or below current Income Eligibility Guidelines, you are encouraged to contact your school or district to fill out a school meal application. Applications are reviewed by local school or district officials before granting free or reduced price benefits. If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, all of your children who attend school automatically qualify for free school meals. Participation in other federal assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) also provides automatic eligibility. Please contact your school to determine if you need to fill out an application. Visit the USDA to learn more.