Considering the Role of Breakfast and Hunger at Our Kids Schools

August 14, 2018

While some of us may be occasionally guilty of skipping “the most important meal of the day”, that bad habit affects grown ups differently than kids. As an adult, we are often able to power through and stay focused through the feeling of being hungry. To a point, anyway.

For kids, however, skipping breakfast has been proven to dramatically affect their abilities to focus on even simple tasks and problems at school, as well as their overall performance.

Breakfast and test scores

Students who eat breakfast before starting their school day don’t just concentrate better, they tend to score better on academic tests in math, reading, and science. According to a study from the University of Iowa, students in schools that offered free breakfasts before class scored about 25 percent higher on math, reading and science tests. Researchers believe that this is because the breakfast provides the energy necessary to increase cognitive, or thinking, speed and problem-solving skills

Breakfast and sustained energy

We are technically fasting while we sleep, and having food first thing in the morning is a crucial step in waking up our bodies and minds by regulating our blood sugar levels. Skipping breakfast can leave kids feeling sluggish and make it more difficult to get through the day, or at least their morning classes. On the other hand, eating a healthy breakfast before school raises blood sugar to a healthy level and provides the necessary energy that students need to perform well in class until lunchtime.

Breakfast goes beyond school performance

What about basic nutrition? According to a report published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, children who regularly eat breakfast take in approximately 20 to 60 percent more iron, B vitamins and vitamin D than children who skip breakfast. Breakfast eaters also tend to take in more daily fiber and lower total fat and dietary cholesterol.

Regularly eating breakfast is also associated with a healthier body mass index, or BMI, and a decreased likelihood of obesity. Research shows that students who regularly eat breakfast have an easier time maintaining a healthy body weight than students who are regular breakfast skippers.

How can we #shakehunger?

More than 13 million American kids go to school hungry every day. We have partnered with WhyHunger to help solve this problem at a grassroots level. Here is what WhyHunger is doing to help our kids and communities get the nourishment they need to learn and succeed.

“We don’t just ask why. We find solutions to hunger that transform and last.”

Hunger as a symptom of social injustice

WhyHunger tackles hunger as a symptom of a bigger problem: social injustice. By supporting grassroots initiatives that find and activate real solutions to the social, economic, and environmental problems that cause hunger, they are able to enact real, sustained change.

Solutions include:

  • Growing Grassroots Power
  • Supporting Movements
  • Social Justice
  • Amplifying Community Voices
  • Advocating for the Right to Food
  • Scaling Out Agroecology

By applying these solutions to programs feeding kids and supporting programs like the School Breakfast Program nationally and internationally, WhyHunger is helping each of us be part of the solution.

Orgain is committed to contributing to WhyHunger’s mission. To find out how you can join us in this effort, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @drinkorgain.

Learn more about the critical School Breakfast Program, on it’s 50th anniversary, from WhyHunger Board Member, author, and activist Janet Poppendieck.

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