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Healthy Balanced Breakfast at School Helps Students Shine

September 4, 2013

Originally published March 5, 2012

Breakfast has long been considered the most important meal of the day and it is incredibly important for students, as it provides the energy necessary to get ready for a day of learning.

Studies have shown that students who eat breakfast have a general increase in math and reading scores, increased attention and improved behavior.  A study in Pediatrics suggests that hungry students are more likely to have to repeat a grade, and according to the Minnesota Department of Children and Learning, students who eat breakfast before starting school have fewer discipline problems and visit school nurses' offices less often.

Many schools in Georgia are adopting programs that encourage students to eat healthy breakfasts. In fact, 85 percent of Georgia's schools have a breakfast program. Marietta City Schools adopted a Grab n' Go Breakfast program geared towards placing healthy and nutritious breakfast foods in mobile units for students to "grab" on the way to class.

The program is free for all the students in the district.  As students enter their schools, they can grab an easy, balanced breakfast and head to class. By the time the bell rings, they are fueled up and ready to learn. The successful program was featured recently during a CBS "Fit Kids Fit Families" segment.

"It is very important for students to get their breakfasts so they can get their nutrients first thing in the morning," said Cindy Culver the director of nutrition for Marietta City Schools during the segment. "That way they can have energy and they can be ready to learn."

According to the Georgia Department of Education, only 31 percent of Georgia students participate in school breakfast programs. To encourage students to take advantage of the Marietta City Schools' program and to eat a healthy breakfast each morning, NFL Super Bowl Champion, Deuce McAllister visited Marietta Middle School (MMS) on Jan. 17 to recognize the school for its outstanding promotion and use of the Grab n' Go Breakfast program. During his visit, McAllister served breakfast alongside MMS school nutrition staff and instructed physical education classes.

March 5-9 is National School Breakfast Week, and the campaign highlights how eating a health balanced breakfast at school helps students shine. The campaign helps students learn about the importance of eating health and being active. According to the campaign's website, studies have shown eating breakfast at school results in higher test scores and improved behavior. Teens that eat breakfast are less likely to be suspended from school. In fact, suspensions from school decreased in 40 Maryland schools after the implementation of universal free school breakfast.

Eating breakfast is also positively linked with maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding the problems associated with obesity.  National School Breakfast Week was launched in 1989 to raise awareness of the links between eating a good breakfast, academic achievement and healthy lifestyles.