The Benefits of School Breakfast for Learning and Health

In Nebraska, more than 97,000 children are food insecure. Offering school breakfast that is healthy and easy is one way Nebraskans can prioritize the health and learning of kids.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, children who miss breakfast have lower math scores, repeat grades more often, are more likely to be absent and tardy, and have more behavioral problems than other children. However, children who eat a complete breakfast, versus a partial one or none at all, make fewer mistakes and work faster, perform much better on standardized tests, and learn more readily.

Health benefits from eating breakfast can even outweigh learning benefits. Providing breakfast to students at school improves concentration, alertness, comprehension, and memory. School breakfast is associated with lowered Body Mass Index and kids who eat it have a lower risk of obesity. Children who participate in school breakfast are also more likely to consume a nutritionally substantive breakfast than others.

Schools that offer breakfast in the classroom programs free to all students also experience an increased sense of community and reduced stigma associated with only some students eating breakfast at school. If every student can eat free breakfast, students don’t feel singled out.

One way to offer a healthy school breakfast more easily, is to make sure all students have the chance to eat breakfast at school through the Breakfast in the Classroom program. There are great opportunities to increase participation in Breakfast in the Classroom in Nebraska schools. In the 2015-16 school year, only 41 percent of children in Nebraska who received free or reduced-price lunch also received school breakfast, so it’s clear we can do better to fight classroom hunger.

Nebraska Appleseed is part of a consortium of organizations called Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom offering technical assistance and financial support to qualifying schools to increase their breakfast participation through breakfast in the classroom. Learn more about this new funding opportunity by clicking here or contacting Eric Savaiano of Nebraska Appleseed at 402-438-8853 ext. 126.

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