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Extension > Live Healthy, Live Well > Wake Up to School Breakfast

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Wake Up to School Breakfast

Mornings with children at home can be hectic. One or both parents are probably getting ready for work while also dressing young children for day care and corralling older ones for school. Teenagers may be leaving earlier than other family members for a morning sports practice. With such busy schedules, it is nice to know that most schools offer breakfast.

It is important that children (as well as adults) start the day with breakfast. Children who eat breakfast reach higher levels of achievement in reading and math, concentrate better, are more alert, retain more of what they learn, and have fewer behavior problems.

Schools also benefit as eating breakfast is associated with reduced absenteeism and tardiness, fewer visits to the nurse’s office and behavior problems, and improved test scores. These all combine to make a positive learning environment for children. The state of Minnesota feels so strongly that breakfast is important, that it expanded its school breakfast and lunch program to include free breakfast for all kindergarteners in 2014.

Governor Dayton serves lunch to students alongside Coon Rapids staff.
Photo: The Office of the Governor Blog.


What’s more, breakfast isn’t just served in school cafeterias. Instead, schools have found creative ways to ensure students get breakfast.
  • Some schools serve breakfast in the classroom, with food items brought in on a cart. This allows children to eat breakfast while the teacher handles morning tasks, such as taking attendance, making announcements, and collecting homework. 
  • Other schools offer “grab and go” breakfasts in which students pick up their breakfast in a bag in the cafeteria or hallway, and then eat breakfast in their classrooms.
  • Some high schools let students eat their grab-and-go breakfast in the hallway before class starts. 

Second Chances 


Because adolescents are often not hungry early in the morning, many middle and high schools have found success by serving “second chance” breakfasts after the first period of the day. Under this plan, breakfast carts are set up in classroom hallways and students grab their breakfasts as they are passing to their second-period classes.

Research supports the idea behind second chance breakfasts. Over the last four years, the University of Minnesota has been involved in Project breakFAST: Fueling Academics and Strengthening Teens. This research project has found that breakfast participation among high school students increases when it is offered after first period.

If you are a parent or caregiver of a child in school and don’t have the time to feed your children breakfast at home, think school breakfast. Breakfasts served at schools are healthy and will give children the energy they need for the school day.


Sources
Share Our Strength. Why is breakfast important? (2014). No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices.
Food and Nutrition Services. There’s more than one way to serve breakfast. (n.d.). United States Department of Agriculture.

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