Each year in early March, the School Nutrition Association highlights the importance of a nutritious school breakfast in helping students thrive.
National School Breakfast Week was established in 1989 as an annual event promoting the value of healthy school breakfasts for students in K-12 schools.
This year’s theme, Dig Into School Breakfast, has special meaning as it gives schools the opportunity to not only encourage students to ‘engineer’ healthy breakfasts, but also to recognize the amazing school catering staff who worked tirelessly to make it happen have and continue to work Create meals for the students each day.
The school breakfast program plays an essential role in reducing child hunger, promoting student success and improving health. One of the most effective ways to encourage school breakfast attendance is to make it a part of the school day.
Children who eat breakfast at school are more likely to have a better overall diet, eating more fruit, dairy, and a variety of foods. All food served for breakfast must meet the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) strict dietary guidelines.
The American Dairy Association North East invited other anti-hunger groups to a conference focused on efforts being made to ensure students continue to have access to a healthy breakfast every day.
The conference took place in the North Colonie Central School District at Forts Ferry Elementary School.
As running back for the New York Giants, Matt Breida spoke at the conference to pledge his support.
“It’s a big problem, a lot of kids don’t understand it [breakfast] in the morning and I feel like that’s a big part of being successful at school,” Breida said. “There was a point where I didn’t really eat much breakfast and I know I was a lot more tired and sluggish in the mornings and once I started eating breakfast I noticed that I could pay better attention in class, my test scores have improved and it has helped me get to where I am today and achieve my dreams and goals.”
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government allowed waivers to offer free school meals to every child across the country. These expired at the start of this school year and since then there has been a major impact in terms of children losing access, lots of school meal debt has accumulated and schools are looking into making school meals more equitable for children.
According to Jessica Pino-Goodspeed, school meals and engagement manager at Hunger Solutions NY, the state level is working to introduce free school meals for all children nationwide.
“This would be a tremendous impact for New York State, there is such strong support,” Pino-Goodspeed said. “This kind of policy would create a level playing field. Our neighbors in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont have all embraced that policy and taken the next step, so we’re excited that New York will be next.”
Pino-Goodspeed hopes that free school meals for all children nationwide will be included in the final state budget on April 1st.