I consider myself a pretty organized person. This is especially true during the work week as I tend to have my purse, computer, breakfast and lunch packed up and ready to go the night before. This may sound like I take a lot of time preparing for the next day when in reality it takes all but 5 minutes. Computer bag sits next to my purse so I don’t forget either, may have done that before, and breakfast is always yogurt while lunch is leftovers with a piece of fruit. While taking care of oneself, as I am a single adult, it is not a huge task to be organized and ready for the work week. Be that as it may, for those adults who not only work but have children, being organized could be an entirely different ball game.
One of the areas, as a working adult with school aged children, that may slip from time to time is making sure children have a healthy breakfast everyday of the week. It is all to easy to forget about breakfast when it’s a struggle to get the children out of bed, dressed and out of the house in time fore school, let alone with a healthy breakfast in their bellies. However, have you ever thought about the children who do not have the option to have daily breakfast because their family can’t afford it?
In 1966 the School Breakfast Program was developed as a pilot program to subsidize breakfast to children at schools and in child care facilities in poor neighborhoods. Since then the School Breakfast Program has been modified and made permanent in 1975 to be available to schools who needed to improve the nutrition and dietary needs of children in low income families. From this modification all children in participating schools and residential instates are eligible for subsidized meals, regardless of family income. Even though all children can participate in the School Breakfast Program the breakdown of free vs. reduced vs. full priced meals is based on federal income levels. Free meals are offered to children with a family income below 130% of the federal poverty level, reduced price meals are offered to children with a family income between 130% to 185% of the poverty level and full prices meals are for a family income above the 185% poverty level.
Over time the number of free and reduced eligible student meals has increased. Yet, there has not been a large increase in the number of students engaging in school breakfast. Why, you may ask? In part, it is due to the stigma that the School Breakfast Program is for those students who receive free or reduced cost meals. Due to programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 that offer breakfast in different settings like breakfast kiosks or breakfast in the classroom, it has helped to decrease the school breakfast stigma while increasing breakfast participating.
Per the Economic Research Service, the number of students who actively participate in school breakfast has steadily increased from 1975 to 2014 with some 13.5 million students participating in some kind of school breakfast program. Even though this sounds like a large number, which it is, over 31.3 million students are engaged in that National School Lunch Program. With this being said there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to engaging students in school breakfast. Not only does school breakfast have to meet federal nutrition standards but it helps provide students the fuel they need to help them learn.
How can you encourage your children or the schools in your area to create an environment that encourages consumption of the most important meal of the day – Breakfast?