Benefits of school breakfast programs

Children who go to school hungry tend to have more challenges in school, including lower academic achievement and a high incidence of absences. The School Breakfast Program has proven to address these issues.

Most of us have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Unfortunately, there are far too many children who skip this meal. For children who live in households that do not have access to an assured food source, it often means going to school hungry. According to the United States Department of Agriculture data, in 2011 close to one in four children in the U.S. (16.6 million children) lived in households considered to have food insecurity.

Michigan State University Extension says food insecurity is associated with many negative issues in regards to children’s growth, development, behavior and learning. Children who live in insecure food situations tend to have more challenges in school, including lower academic achievement and a higher incidence of absences.

The School Breakfast Program (SBP), administered by the USDA and the State Department of Education, helps reduce the risk of hunger and food insecurity and improves nutrient intake of the food groups identified by the 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans. The SBP was first piloted in 1966 and became a permanent entitlement program in 1975. An estimated 12.84 million, income eligible students in the U.S. participated in the SBP in 2012.

Studies have shown that the SBP is associated with higher academic performance as well as improved comprehension and problem solving skills. Absences, tardiness, behavioral and emotional problems have been shown to decrease as a result of this program. Since breakfast is also linked to reduced childhood obesity, participation with the SPB has also been associated with lowering BMI and the risk of obesity in children and adolescents.

The following websites provide additional information about the Michigan SBP:

http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-43092-194516—,00.html

http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/1987

http://www.fbcmich.org/site/DocServer/Michigan_School_Breakfast_Report.pdf

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