Monday, March 31, 2014

But what about the children?


     Now that National Nutrition Month is coming to an end we’ve touched upon almost all the topics of nutrition, all but one.
    The children. Children are our future, if they aren’t eating well does it impact their development? The answer is yes! Luckily for our state we are doing a lot to combat the hunger our children are facing and we’re starting with breakfast. A healthy breakfast helps students focus in class, score higher on standardized tests, when children are hungry they don’t concentrate as well and tend to do poorer in classes as a result. New Jersey schools are feeding breakfast to about 48,000 more low-income children each school day and are eligible to feed of 300,000 more! They’ve jumped to 37 nationally ranked school breakfast programs and don’t plan on stopping there.
    So how did they do this? One of the many ways they rose to 37 was by serving breakfast in the first few minutes of the school day or “breakfast after the bell” as they like to call it. Hunger is a major barrier to learning. The progress of more children enjoying breakfast before class means that more students have a better chance of succeeding in school. The NJ Food for Thought Campaign is working hard at making sure our children are getting a nutritious breakfast without jeopardizing class time. They have developed several models to ensure students are getting proper nutrition, from breakfast in class to grab and go. They are making sure that students who qualify for the free breakfast program get breakfast.
    “New Jersey can rise to the top of the school breakfast ranks,” LaTourette added. “All it takes is for school communities to come together and decide to serve breakfast in a way that is better for kids.  That is what’s most important, that it’s better for the kids. It’s been found that students who eat breakfast at school are more likely to consume a nutritionally substantive breakfast and to consume significantly more calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, fruit,and dairy products at breakfast, when compared to students from schools with a traditional school breakfast program. This is great becomes those minerals play a key role in bone development and overall growth.  Also school breakfast programs have show that children who eat breakfast have more  favorable weight-related outcomes, this means lower BMI and less likely to become obese. These are all great reasons to support the campaign for free breakfast. If you would like some more facts check out the fact sheet created by the FRAC.
    If your children’s schools are not offering free breakfast you can get started yourself, today, and now! First thing you should do is contact school nutrition director or cafeteria manager, and tell them you are interested in breakfast in the classroom. Next step is to build support within the school community, starting with teachers, school support staff, principals, and custodial staff. Their support will help you idea grow! The NJ Food for Thought Campaign has set a goal to increase school breakfast participation by 50 percent by June 2014 – and is well on the way to meeting that goal. In order to reach it they need your help so sign up with them, get involved, and let’s start feeding our kids to health. #nutritionforall


-ZG

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