Breakfast in the classroom

courtesy: dchunger.org

Breakfast in the classroom is an effort by school districts and the USDA to help kids eat something before the school day starts so that they will perform better academically (some research here). Breakfast is offered in most school cafeterias, but to eat breakfast you have to come early, before school starts. Getting to school on time, much less early, is a huge challenge for many families.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that Chicago Public Schools recently announced that they will participate in the free breakfast program for all students. It’s starting next month.

I’m thrilled when I see kids lining up for breakfast, but I know participation is low compared to the high participation in the school lunch program. Occasionally I’ll ask my students if they ate breakfast that day. Many say no. One student in particular often has terrible morning breath (a sign that she hopped out of bed and came straight to school). In the past I asked her if she’s ate breakfast and she has said no. This particular student qualifies for reduced, but not free, school lunch. I know her family works and they are running to get out of the house in the morning. I can’t imagine trying to get multiple kids ready for school — one toddler is challenge enough.

On the other hand, I can’t imagine sending my child to school without breakfast. At the very least I would press a granola bar into my child’s hand, but that is assuming that families have money.  Even when my son was eating daycare food and participated in their morning cereal routine, it was a rare day that he didn’t eat something at home with us (my husband and I both eat breakfast). In fact, most mornings the first thing he does when he wakes up is to demand food (his current favorite: “peanut buhder mana” — peanut butter spread on a banana). His usual breakfast is oatmeal or cereal and with fruit, if we have it handy. By the time he gets to daycare, he could care less if the other kids are eating because he’s full.

I think eating breakfast in the classroom is a great idea. Making time in the morning to eat should be something we instill in young people. It appears that many parents don’t make time for breakfast in the morning. Either the families are staying up too late watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the net (guilty as charged) or eating in the morning is not important to them. Does no one care about breakfast anymore?

It’s a symptom of something. I believe our nation lacks the robust food culture that other countries take for granted and which their children absorb simply by being part of society. If food is not taught in our schools and it’s not taught at home, kids don’t have much of a chance to learn how to eat in a way that benefits their bodies over the long haul.

The logistics of breakfast in the classroom make it a little more challenging. There will be a breakfast for every child but individual children can opt out (at first I thought every child had to get a breakfast — now that would be wasteful). Having large quantities of food trash in the classrooms instead of the cafeteria could lead to bug problems (yes, I’ve seen cockroaches in my room). I think the biggest disadvantage is the potential loss of instructional time. But the truth is that there is a lot of “business” to take care of in the morning — attendance being the most important. The first fifteen minutes the kids are settling in to their day, putting away their coats and backpacks, turning in homework, and saying the pledge. Throwing breakfast in the mix could make it more chaotic. Still I think it’s important to power students up with food. So for me disadvantages are minimized — these kids need to eat to learn.

However, what they eat is just as important as eating the meal itself. A sugary breakfast may not make things better for students in terms of focusing mid- to late morning.

For me, it comes down to this: Is it better to eat something for breakfast than nothing at all? My answer: some food is better than no food when you’re a hungry and growing little person. Thoughts?

Further reading:
Breakfast at School: Fast and Healthy Food for Thought (additional research)
From the USDA – 10 Reasons to Try Breakfast in the Classroom (pdf handout)

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46 Responses to Breakfast in the classroom

  1. Dorothy February 3, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    I suppose *something* is better that nothing as far as kids' breakfasts go.
    I live in a large Detroit suburb where the majority of the children do NOT receive free or reduced lunch. Only a handful of schools offer breakfast. It's remarkably horrific offerings.
    Here's the menu through the end of the school yer:
    Monday-Pillsbury mini pancakes or Kellogg's cereal kit, Juice and milk
    Tues: Bagel & cream cheese or Kellogg's cereal kit, juice & milk
    Weds: Cherry or Apple Frudel (what the heck is a frudal?) or Cini Minis (what are those?), juice & milk
    Thurs: Keebler Blueberry Elfin (what's an Elfin and really, are there any blueberries in it?) or Cereal kit, Juice & milk
    Fri: Pop-tart or cereal kit, juice & milk

    See any protein? See any fruit? See any whole grains? All I see is a bunch of crap served up to kids at 8AM. This reads more like a promo for what NOT to eat.

  2. heatherinin February 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    I struggle with that, too: Is it better to eat something, even if it's bad? My school has two breakfast options: K-2 eat it in the cafeteria, if they want it. (all meals at my school are free for all kids) It's hot, but still mostly packaged: little pancakes in a bag, a cinnamon roll in a bag, muffin in a bag, bagel in a bag that kind of thing. Sometimes it's less so: french toast, very, very occasionally oatmeal. There is always cereal, and milk (and of course chocolate and strawberry milk), along with fresh fruit (that part is good!) Also fruit juice. A lot of kids opt out when it's in the cafeteria. When it's not winter or raining, the kids not eating breakfast sit outside

    Then, the 3-4 eat breakfast in their classroom. They sometimes get the packaged things like pancakes. They get that graham peanut butter sandwich a lot. They occasionally get a container of flavored yogurt, and even more occasionally some applesauce. Never any fresh fruit. Very seldom plain milk, mostly flavored, and always juice.

    I counted one day, when they had Fruity Cheerios with strawberry milk and juice. 40 grams of sugar. Yikes!

    Not to mention that the amount they take is not regulated. So many kids take 2 chocolate milk. And some of them I know eat breakfast at home, too. Which may or may not be any better.

    My son is in 4th grade. He is gluten free, so he can't eat the breakfast anyway, but we also eat breakfast at home, so he doesn't need it. I did know he would sometimes drink chocolate milk, and while I don't love that, I could live with it on an occasional basis.

    But then, I found out that sometimes he'd take 2 chocolate milk. And a juice. All I had to do for him was tell him about the label of chocolate milk: the amount of sugar, the high fructose corn syrup. He stopped on his own. He'll have a plain milk if they offer plain that day in the classroom, or he'll have fruit juice (which, though it's 100% juice, I don't love. But we don't drink juice at home, so it evens out.)

    But in my experience, more of the kids eat breakfast when it's in their classroom. They grab it as they come in, and go sit at their desk and do their morning work.

    Oh, and the bugs: They have big trashcans in the hallway during breakfast time. The kids take their breakfast trash right out to the hallway trash can. There isn't ever any food waste in the classroom that way.

    I'm not ready to be any kind of advocate for it, except to wish that it was different. Thanks for all you're doing! I just keep hoping for a trickle-down to my school.

  3. TJ February 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Interesting post overall. I absolutely think some food is better than no food. Yeah, if given the choice to feed children with sugary cereals or nothing, I'd take the cereal hands down. It might have side effects (mid-morning sluggish feeling), but an empty stomach is bound to cause a lot more problems than that…

    I agree that breakfast should start at home and be *reinforced* in school. I am not from the US but from somewhere in the Caribbean, and breakfast was as much of a meal plan as lunch and dinner. You just had to eat something, no exceptions (then again, school didn't serve breakfast–but that's a whole different issue).

  4. Melissa Jo February 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Just an idea, you could always stock a box of granola bars in your classroom & offer them to students in the morning.

    They are relatively cheap & could be the brain food some of them need.

    Like you said, something is better than nothing!

  5. missmarc February 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Even in highschool, which wasnt long ago for me, I remember having 'brunch' on Fridays and 'break' everyday. Break included things like:
    -goldfish
    -pretzels
    -handmade pretzels
    -pancakes wrapped around sausages
    -sausage biscuits
    -bagels with cream cheese
    -chex mix
    -pop tarts etc.
    No fruit, no eggs, no nothing. Brunch was pretty much the same except for it included greasy hash browns and other sugary pastries. I was lucky to go to a private school though because we did have a HUGE salad bar. I think these kids should be eating something, but something HEALTHY.

  6. Arwen February 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    I have to say I'm one of the mothers who work and don't prepare food in the morning. I do, however, send money and tell my daughter to eat breakfast at school and have Cheerios and milk available at home if she so desires. Several times a year, I get a call from the school nurse that my daughter is complaining about her stomach but has no fever. I talk to her and my first question is always "Did you eat breakfast this morning?" The answer is always "No, I forgot". My daughter would rather socialize in the gym for 30-40 minutes than eat breakfast. This would be an enormous boon to me because she'd eat if she wasn't missing out on social time.

  7. Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    I think you may be making an assumption about why kids might not eat breakfast. When I was a tween and teen I physically could not eat breakfast at that hour of the morning. I gagged on my toothbrush most mornings….food was out of the question. My own teenage son is the same way now as are a lot of his friends and my friends children. Looking back, I suspect that a lot of my own classmates would have eaten breakfast if it could have been at a more "civilized" hour lol.

    Anyway, I think that if there is anything that they can eat and keep down then that's better than nothing.

  8. BusyChica February 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Our school district provides hot lunch to all students, but it's not free. There is a reduced student breakfast for $0.25. Breakfast consists of 8 oz. fluid milk, 1/2 cup of fresh or canned fruit, vegetable or juice, two servings of bread or alternate, or one serving of bread and one serving of meat which may contain pork.

    There are cold cereal choices each day. Each day will vary offerings from different type of omlets, fresh baked muffins, pancakes, bagels, waffle sticks, and even cinnamon churro (I consider this more of a dessert).

    Served each day: fresh fruit, assorted fruited 4 oz. yogurt, bagel alternative (???), uncrustable peanut butter sandwich, and hardboiled eggs.

    My district surly provides choices, so I'm sure even the most picky eater that does not have sensory issues could find something.

    My son's preschool does not offer breakfast or lunch, so it's a non-issue, I know what he eats for all his meals, including snacks.

    Unfortunately my daughter has started requesting "uncrustables" each time we go to BJ's and it is a long, drawn-out process to get her to understand why she can't eat them, I wonder if i can thank the school or tv advertising for that headache.

    My kids have breakfast each morning before school. My daughter has pancakes, fresh fruit and milk, my son opts for fresh oatmeal mixed with purée fruit (he has sensory issues and has a very limited diet, we are working on this) milk and some sort of crunchy snack/cereal as a reward bite for bite. I eat two eggs over easy, two slices of whole wheat toast with a little bit of smart balance and my morning coffee. My husband leaves very early so he'll have his coffee and assorted fruit flavored Greek yogurt (Chobani, we buy the big pack from BJ's) and is gone before the rest of us come down. We have breakfast as a family on weekend.

    Mrs Q, keep up the good work, breakfast could also use a reform, but I do feel that having the breakfast offered in my school district is better than nothing. If they didn't offer it in my school, I would consider occasionally donating granola bars to my daughter's classroom for the teacher to offer to the students, but this may be tricky since she is in a Special Ed class that has only 7 students and not sure if any are on any sort of restricted diet.

  9. Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Mrs Q. I found your blog yesterday. I love what you are doing and have to commend you on being so brave, especially last year with all the photos and actually eating the lunches yourself. After reading many of the lunch posts and looking at the pictures I realized that you were in Chicago…my 3 grandchildren are located in a suburb of Chicago and presently the oldest is the only one in school. While they may not be in your school, I pray for their sake that your work helps to improve school lunches there and everywhere. Another grandchild lives near me (another state) and is home schooled, she is 11yo. My daughter is a vegetarian who eats no meat other than fish. As part of her schooling my granddaughter has learned how to select and cook many healthy veggie dishes, she can tell you what foods are healthy and even how to prepare them…they are considering placing her in public school next year so my hope is that she will continue with her healthy habits. We are located in a community that promotes healthy eating, lifestyles and recycling heavily so I think (while I'm not sure of this) that our school lunches here may be a bit healthier than those that you posted about.
    I think the breakfast idea is great and would hope that it is always healthy as well. My idea of healthy would be whole-wheat muffins or bread, oatmeal, fruit and low fat milk. Someone suggested granola bars, these are good but the sugar level in them may not be so good, on e good alternative is "Lara" bars…all the sugar in these bars are natural from the fruit and nuts they are made with, no added sugar at all. The one thing that would help our children the most would be to get rid or sugar and white flour products, my granddaughter that lives in Chicago has a big sweet tooth and "craves" sweets. I have the same problem and recently cut sugar and white flour from my diet, I have lost 20lbs in 2 months and best of all my "cravings" are all totally gone and I am in control of my choices. I firmly believe if we cut sugar/white flour from our kids diet it would be easier to teach them about good healthy choices.
    Good luck with your work, I hope that you continue to have the time to do this, it really is above and beyond your work as a teacher but you may have found your passion which will help even more children and their families. Every child deserves healthy food no matter what their economic situation is.

  10. Milehimama @ Mama Says February 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    I do think SOMETHING is better than nothing. Our schools do the breakfast in the classroom thing, too but the offerings are really bad (I wrote about it recently, here:
    http://www.milehimama.com/2010/12/14/guess-the-school-lunch-1-test-day-breakfast/

    I can't imagine a little brain trying to learn without any fuel- if she ate dinner at 6 pm the night before, that's 14 hours without food!
    Now, if it's not a good breakfast, but one with 30 grams of sugar, this will cause crashes later (which could be ameliorated depending on when lunch is… and what's for lunch) which I think is a separate, though related issue.

    It would be great if kids at our schools were offered orange slices or a banana instead of Teddy Grahams for breakfast. Or, since the Teddy Grahams are offered for the "whole grains" requirement, maybe a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter or cream cheese spread, or a mini whole wheat bagel with spread. Although that is messier than eating bears out of a bag.

    Mrs Q, my kids love "banana dogs". Spread PB on a piece of bread, tortilla, or wrap, put a whole banana on it, and fold it like a hot dog!

  11. Ms.T February 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    My schools offer breakfast each morning. Kids on free/reduced get breakfast as well as lunch. Any student can purchase breakfast, though. Where they eat depends on the school. Some of our schools don't have a lunch room so breakfast and lunch are done in the classrooms. Other schools use their gyms or have a cafeteria.

    What is offered for breakfast often makes my stomach churn. "Breakfast" pizza (crust, cheese and sausage", large cinnamon rolls, cheese omelets are rotated but every day there is sugary cereal, muffins, juice and milk. Some breakfast is better than nothing but they really need to make the selections healthier. With all this sugar coursing through them, no wonder kids can't sit still and learn.

    I've always stressed how important breakfast is in my house. A good breakfast can set the tone for the whole day.

    Keep up the good work. 🙂

  12. Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    I sympathize with parents not being able to provide breakfast, I guess, but schools providing crap is not a good solution, in my opinion. I looked up the 'Frudal" mentioned by a previous comment. HFCS, CS, various overly processed oils, etc., etc. That can't be better than nothing. Like some mentioned I don't want to be in the classroom when these kids come down from that sugar high.

    I think the point in your blog about a lack of food culture is the most serious problem – and one that this country likely can't solve. In other countries with longstanding cultures, food is a secondary issue. Trial and error over thousands of years has yielded the some of the best foods. Here, not so much – so marketing, and poor nutritional guidance from the Dept. of Ag (mainly a marketing vehicle) stand in. And we see the results.

  13. BlackDog February 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    A poster above mentioned the "I can't put anything in my mouth, I'll get sick" problem. I am in my 30s and many of my friends have this issue, too.

    I wonder how much of this is conditioning and how much is physiology. My mother MADE my brother and I eat breakfast. She worked, and as soon as I was capable of doing so (age 6) I made my own cereal or oatmeal. Then I made it for my brother, too.

    Today, I MUST eat breakfast or else I spend the day confused and tired (at best) or just sick (at worst). I wonder how much of that urge was shaped by my parents' early insistence on me eating. Our battleground meal was not breakfast — it was dinner. I was never hungry at dinner time and I just wanted to sleep.

    Adult breakfast…low-sodium tomato juice, a hard-boiled egg or egg white, and a ryvita cracker with a smear of almond butter or a small bowl of oatmeal. The veggies and protein now seem critical to my adult metabolism. I don't particularly -like- this food, but it keeps me full. Sadly, I can imagine it being VERY unpopular with little ones and I have few ideas about how to make kids' breakfasts work better for them…they have different nutritional needs from the grownups, right?

  14. Belinda @zomppa February 3, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    We didn't have mandatory breakfast growing up and I think that hurt a lot of kids who didn't always have the time for it (my folks didn't seem to have time to get me breakfast, so I was always sooooo hungry by 8. I think a little something is key, but starting the day with a Cheetoh just sets up for a disastrous and sugar-filled day. I think you're totally right about us not having a food culture. I wish I could have gone to that nursery school in France with trained chefs who serve the kids a sit down meal (with silverware!) and give them the time to enjoy their food rather than wolf it down in 15 minutes.

  15. Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Just an idea, you could always stock a box of granola bars in your classroom & offer them to students in the morning.

    They are relatively cheap & could be the brain food some of them need.

    Like you said, something is better than nothing!

    Granola bars aren't a very healthy snack. I know people think they are, but basically they're slightly chewy candy bars.

    If she could get anything else for the same price, that'd be a better deal. Even just plain dried fruit – sure, it's sweet, but at least the sugar is inherent instead of added!

  16. Mackenzie February 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    It might not be a matter of that one little girl's parents willfully sending her out with no breakfast. Personally, I feel nauseated for about an hour after I wake up, and then I feel fine and eat breakfast; it could be similar for this child. One solution, of course, would be to get the day started sooner to accommodate her, but with multiple kids, that's easier said than done.

    In general, I think breakfast in the classroom is a great idea, especially for kids who need a little extra time before they can eat in the morning. But when some schools won't even schedule in time for recess, I don't know how practical it is.

  17. amber o February 3, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    My school participates in the breakfast in the classroom program and I wonder the same thing. Are animal crackers better than nothing at all? Most of the foods that are served are home made, but lacking in whole grains and fresh fruit. I know I don't want my own kidos having this for breakfast.

  18. Christine W. February 3, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Well I live in Chicago and personally, I am against the breakfast in the classroom program. I wrote about it on my blog here:

    http://christinewhitley.tumblr.com/post/2948371753/school-breakfast

    I am all for kids getting breakfast in school but why does it have to be in the classroom? And have you see the grab-and-go food choices? I just think it could be done better.

  19. Milehimama @ Mama Says February 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    I think that the mandatory breakfast/something better than nothing will really impact children who come from homes where their parents are unavailable in the morning.

    Lots of kids get themselves off to school, even in elementary, because their parents are already at work OR because their parents aren't awake during the day due to illness or addiction.

    Not all kids come from food-secure homes.

    But still- surely they could offer a banana and a cheese stick in place of neon yogurt and animal crackers (animal crackers/neon Trixx yogurt are on the menu for breakfast EVERY DAY in my district.)

  20. Ann-Marie February 3, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    My daughters school offers free breakfast to any student, including younger siblings who are not of school age. Mom and Dad are free to eat as well for a small fee. The trick is getting there early enough. If a family did not have money enough to provide breakfast for themselves I think it's great and should be taken advantage of regardless of what is served. Any food is better then no food, period.
    However I can feed my kids a nutritious breakfast and that is what I prefer they eat. If it means I have to get up a half an hour earlier to prepare it then so be it.

  21. DramaMama February 3, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    I read a while ago about school hot lunch having so many preservatives and hormones in it that kids who ate it every day were 'becoming adults' sooner. Mostly they referenced girls, but boys too. I do not know where I read it, but I do know that I have taught some kids who I imagine this was the case. If this is happening from eating one government provided meal a day, what would happen if they were eating 2? I wish I had the article to back up what I am saying! Either way, in general I don't think school provided food is healthy. Doubling the amount of it a kid eats is doubly unhealthy. As a teacher I used to keep a loaf of wheat bread and natural PB stocked on my shelf. There were kids who took me up on it a few times. I know they were really hungry since culturally they couldn't eat what was offered in the cafeteria and also were financially needy. It really wasn't that expensive and when I was pregnant I even found myself dipping into that stash! To answer your question, I'm on the fence. I don't think kids can concentrate well on empty stomachs, yet I don't think the food I've seen in those breakfast programs are anywhere near brain food. I think since most of my students were of the low-economic status group I would probably cave and feel such a compassion that I would say something is better than nothing. But I wouldn't like that I said it! I pray there is a better alternative to this dilemma soon!

  22. Holly S. February 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    My sons go to a CPS school that began serving breakfast in the classroom in December. Most of the food choices are fine–not fantastic, but not bad either. Only white milk is offered. There is fresh fruit on most days, 100% juice on the other days. Cereal is often along the lines of Rice Krispies, occasionally sweeter. They've even had Kashi Heart to Heart–I'd never bought it but my kindergartner pointed it out at the store and said he liked it. They sometimes have yogurt (Dannon–I'm not a fan) or string cheese. I'm not as familiar with the hot choices, since my kids don't like eggs or oatmeal, but I know they have these, as well as egg sandwiches, and occasionally french toast, which my kids do like.

    I've volunteered the kindergarten classroom twice and seen the breakfast in action. My son has an efficient teacher and they are definitely done in 10-15 minutes–one day when I went they had gym class at 8:10 (first bell rings at 7:55, second at 8:00), so they had to be done at that time–if they weren't done, then they just had to quit. The second time the teacher allowed them a little longer to finish, as they finished they when to the rug for the morning meeting. I really don't think a lot of time is lost for breakfast, the teacher takes care of business while the kids eat.

  23. Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    I think something is better than nothing breakfast-wise. My kids eat at home everyday. Some mornings are healthier than others. Some mornings they are also hungrier than others. Breakfast junk food is served at school and since their bus is one of the first there, they would have enough time to eat. I told them that if they are still hungry they are allowed to get something, but they never have.

    Also a comment on Mrs. Q keeping granola bars (or fruit or ANYTHING else) for kids in the classroom, that would be a huge no-no in our district. Any food outside of the cafeteria has to be pre-ordered from an approved snack list. The list includes baked chips and fruit snacks, rice Krispie treats etc and also fresh apples and bananas. You could go to the store and buy the same exact thing, but no, they must be ordered through the school. No Candy or homemade treats at Halloween or birthdays or Christmas. Valentines with candy attached? Forget it.

  24. Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    My district (in Colorado) serves breakfast, but the kids who ride the school buses (which is a lot of them) don't get to school in time to eat, so that automatically cuts them all out. Most of what is served is not what I want my kids eating (poptarts, packaged muffins, sugary cereal) so I'd rather them eat a piece of fruit and cereal or toast at home.
    My son has allergies and brings his own lunches even though our family qualifies for free ones. his sisters eat the school lunch, but always come home hungry, because they either didn't have enough time to eat it all (20 minutes is all they get, and that includes the line) or it was just really gross food.

  25. Maggie February 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Mrs. Q, I hope you will be able to let us know what the reaction is from the other teachers in your building when the program is put into place.

  26. Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    The bus comes for my kids at 7:00 am. Every day (with few exceptions), we feed the kids a hot breakfast. Usually, I start cooking around 6:30, and between that time and when the bus comes, breakfast is cooked and consumed and 2 lunches are packed. Now, my kids are older (8 and 14) so they can do things like dress themselves. But it *is* possible to make breakfast at home, on a budget (regular, non-instant oatmeal is $2 for a couple of weeks' supply) and on short time when both parents work fulltime outside the home. It takes work, and planning, but it is possible.

  27. Amy in StL February 3, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    As a child I never wanted breakfast. My mom is a morning person but I'm not and so every morning she offered everything she could think of for breakfast. I answered no to every offer. She finally began to bribe me with hostess products for breakfast, believing that some food was better than nothing until lunch. I didn't get hostess any other time, I didn't eat a lot of sugary foods instead snacking mostly on fruit and cheese. I never remember suffering from a sugar low or any problems in school. I was a well behaved child who always scored towards the top of my class.

    Today, I eat a healthy breakfast every morning; but I'm glad that my mom made sure I had something in my stomach no matter what she felt about the food.

  28. Mrs. Mac February 3, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    I hate to see more gov't intervention taking the place of decent parenting. My mom was a working (divorced) mother .. and we ate breakfast every morning .. and packed lunch bags. People are given too much assistance .. still there are problems. Personal responsibility has gone the way of the dodo bird. Too much entitlement makes for a less productive society.

  29. courtney February 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    I'm like some of the other people who have commented, and don't have much of an appetite first thing in the morning, and therefore don't eat breakfast. Of course I'm usually starving by the time lunch rolls around.

    However, when I was pregnant, I drank Carnation Instant Breakfast because I had to have some kind of breakfast, but being pregnant didn't help the no appetite in the morning thing. Instant Breakfast (the kind you get in a can or packets and mix yourself–NOT the pre-bottled kind, cuz that stuff is gross) is actually pretty filling, has all kinds of vitamins and protein and stuff, and just tastes like chocolate milk (or whatever flavor you get). I would highly recommend it for parents and kids who are too busy or not hungry enough in the morning to eat a normal breakfast.

  30. courtney February 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Oh, and in case you're wondering, I had a complication-free pregnancy, and my baby turned out perfect as can be.

  31. Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    I teach in a small rural school that has been serving free breakfast to all students for many years. My own children eat breakfast at school often as well. I agree for the most part that some breakfast is better than no breakfast, but on the days that pop-tarts are served you can almost see the effects of the sugar on the students – they are almost vibrating! Our k-5 students eat in the classroom and 6-12 eat in the cafeteria. Eating in the cafeteria provides more choice. FOr the classrooms, it's bagels Mon. Wed. and Friday, cereal Tuesday and Yogurt Thursday. Not too bad but could be better. I'd love to see fresh fruit and higher protein foods.

  32. Sara1817 February 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    I definitely think something is better than nothing. I just love your blog!
    One of my most powerful memories involving school and food happened when I was in the second grade. We were a low income family, and our school was lower income as well. One morning our class was being particularly terrible. Our teacher asked everyone whom ate something for breakfast to raise their hand, only 2 kids out of the class had. She took us on a field trip to a local bakery 2 blocks away and bought everyone a doughnut. I remember feeling much more able to focus afterwards. Maybe it was the fresh air, maybe it was the exercise, maybe it was the doughnut. My teacher's kindness touched me and I've never forgotten it.

  33. Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

    My school has breakfast in the classroom everyday. It's free for everyone. There are always 2 cereal choices that rotate (Kix, Rice Krispies, Frosted Mini Wheats, Cheerios), white milk, a bag of apples, and then a second breakfast option. The second option ranges from a box of cereal bars, mini bagels with cream cheese, french toast sticks, waffle sticks, and my personal favorite, a whole wheat english muffin with an egg and cheese. Almost all my kids eat breakfast everyday and they are encouraged to take seconds if they're hungry. Many of my students also participate in our free after school program that ends with dinner, so about 50% of my kids get all 3 meals free at school. For many of them, I know it's the only time they'll get to eat that day.

  34. Elizabeth February 4, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    I taught at a very low income school in NC and most of my students received free lunch/breakfast. One year we tried having the students eat in the classroom (in an effort to cut down the amount of fighting in the breakfast line/cafeteria). There were definitely mixed emotions across the staff and eventually the students went back to eating in the cafeteria. One thing I did notice was a lot of students would save part of their breakfast to eat later in the day or to take home (for snack? for dinner later?). I had no problem with that because the last thing I wanted was for my students to be hungry. Yes, their breakfasts and lunches should have been a lot healthier…however, most of them would not have any other options at home. I can not tell you how many mornings they ate Trix yogurt, pop , and other prepackaged sugary delights. And we wonder why they were crashed out 2 hours later.

  35. Mallory February 4, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    Dorothy's question reminds me of something I read earlier this week about how many products that have blueberries in them are actually full of dyes and artificial flavors, with no blueberries at all. What kind of world do we live in that we don't deserve real blueberries?
    I wanted to chime in here, because my best friend teaches in a low-income community, and she has breakfast with her students in her classroom every morning. She says it's great! The kids each have responsibilities regarding serving and cleaning up, and it is a much more intimate setting than the noisy lunchroom, so they get to talk and bond before they start their day together. I don't know what kind of food they're served, but I think it's at least a start. I'm going to vote that a bowl of Froot Loops, in this case, is better than nothing.

  36. Anonymous February 4, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    My 12-year-old ate breakfast every day until about fifth grade, but now she mostly doesn't. Sometimes she'll eat a banana or a piece of toast in the car on the way to school, but not always. (She eats plenty during the rest of the day, btw; it's not an attempt to diet or anything.) I remember not wanting breakfast when I was an early teen either–eating anything in the morning would literally make me feel like throwing up. Maybe it's some sort of physical developmental stage?

  37. Nancy Winn February 4, 2011 at 5:53 am #

    The elementary school I work started Breakfast In The Classroom a year ago. All students can eat for no charge. Serving breakfast in the classroom has cut down on tardies to school and the number of students sent to the office for stomach aches. The food offerings are generally high in carbs, for example the "UBR breakfast cookie" has 43 carbs! Most of the selections are fast food type items you could probably find at 7/11. What's wrong with cereal/milk/fruit everyday?

  38. Ezzy Guerrero-Languzzi February 4, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    My heart breaks for the little guys who don't get breakfast in the a.m. Our 8-year-old is allergic to just about everything (dairy, eggs, soy, nuts … ) so from early-on I've had to make "everything" from scratch for him. We've learned to adapt by starting our morning off early enough to get breakfast and school lunch made. Can't imagine what it would be like to place a granola bar or any packaged breakfast food in his hands and say, "Here you go!" This made pre-school a nightmare because although they provided snacks for all the kids (which is great), none were foods he could have. Don't mean to complicate this issue further, but another layer of complexity for some parents. Nice to meet you, btw. : ) Great info.

  39. domesticanomaly February 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Today at our school, free breakfast will be "Apple Turnovers." The turnovers happen to look (and taste) exactly like those Hostess Fruit Pies. Certainly they contain a lot of sugar and no protein.

    Would I, as a teacher, like to see protein- and fiber-filled breakfasts offered? Of course. I'd also like class sizes to drop back down to, say, twenty-something instead of thirty-something. I'd like those teacher prep days added back in, so I don't have to volunteer a week of my time every summer.

    There are many, many items on my wish list, and they would every one of them improve student learning and give our kids a better future. But they all cost money, from improving breakfast and lunch to providing art and music classes to lowering class size. So how do we prioritize?

  40. A Mom Like You February 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    So many great comments! Much like Amy in StL.. I could not & would not eat breakfast in the morning.I was a honor roll student-perfect att & won many awards.I had no problem focusing. ate a bagged lunch my mom made. My parents were divorced by the time I was 8yrs. My mom asked my dad for nothing. She choose to bust her butt & work hard & provide for me. While caring for my grandpa & his battle w/cancer. I'm sue I would have qualified for free/red. lunch.But my mom was not interested.
    I agree w/ Mrs. Mac, many people are given too much assistance. There is a fair amount of assistance fraud in my diverse county. I saw kids being dropped of in BMW's -Range Rovers wearing designer clothes & yet they receive reduced lunch & breakfast??

  41. Anonymous February 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    I have a slightly different opinion on this topic…and it is perhaps because I am a public school teacher and in my short 6 years of teaching, I have seen a dramatic increase in school responsibility and an overall decline in parental responsibility. We provide breakfast, supplies, lunch, before school transportation, after school transportation, and a host of other things for our students. Where did the responsibility of parents stop?

    While I agree that breakfast is SO IMPORTANT, and I want every kids to have a healthy start to every day, where is the line drawn? At what point are we going to hold parents accountable for providing for their children? What will be next, overnight housing for those whose parents aren't able to provide it? (I know that is a little dramatic, but you get my point.)

    My issue is not with the children, who have no control over what is provided for them…it is with parents, that are not doing right by their children. Hard times are one thing, but expecting the public school system to pick up the tab for an entire 12 years of school is becoming commonplace.

  42. Milehimama @ Mama Says February 5, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    I think in many cases parents have abdicated their responsibility. What are we to do as a society, though? Remove the children from the parents?

    My school requires transportation. I live 1/4 mile away and my son has gotten in trouble for walking to school instead of catching the bus. Which is so, so, dumb.

    It's a trend I've noticed too. Just last night, my son's friend (4th grade) was at our house until 9:30 at night. Why? His parents went out to eat, didn't know where the boy was, so he was locked out. This is not uncommon- it happens ALL THE TIME. I''m always home so maybe I see it more often but at least 3-4 times a week kids (several different kids, it's not just one family) wander over for dinner, or because their lonely, or because they're locked out – because no one is home at their houses and no arrangements have been made.

    In TX there is no set age for kids staying home- no minimum so it's not illegal but it breaks my heart, these are 8,9, 10 year old KIDS.

  43. Mrs. Q February 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    Milehimama — wow. that is so, so sad. Thank you for being there for them!

  44. Jennifer April 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    I was thrilled when they said our school would participate in the Breakfast in the classroom. My kids like to slak in the mornings and finding time to get ready and get breakfast was hard. Even getting up at 6am and not needing to be to school til 8 they werent getting enough time. My kids started complaining though that they were still hungry and finally one day I went into the school with them. I was sad to see they only got a small gronola bar that day the little bitty ones with chocholate chips…cant remember the brand. They also got a juice. Isnt breakfast one of the most important staples. And have u ever tried to eat only a gronola bar for breakfast. This is more of a mid morning snack. Every since then I have given my kids a small snack at home to supliment the schools. At least there doing something though. I think parents need to be more aware of everything though. and lunches need to be longer. My kids dont have enough time to eat. there ravenous by 3

  45. Anonymous May 1, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    Breakfast in the classroom is NOT the answer. IE. Cockroaches. NO teacher should be subjected to vermin. It's unecessary. If schools would just have breakfast closer to the start of school actually beginning. It wouldn't even be an issue. All bus students would be there as well. Also, no matter how "efficient" a teacher is . taking care of "business" while the kids eat is just not feasible. INSTRUCTION time is being lost. 15 MINUTES of it. DUH!!!! Why don't you people wake up!What about if the kids don't like what's being served? They throw it away and still don't eat.This program is an abominination.

  46. GlycoTrainer June 15, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    Hmm.. peanut butter on a banana.

    I remember I used to eat a peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich right before wrestling meets (after weigh-ins).

    Very sad to think about parents who can't get up 15 minutes earlier than they currently do, to whip something up. Eggs, bran pancakes, bran muffins and milk… Almost anything prepared at home will be more nutritious than anything prepared on the outside.

    As I stated on a previous post (Wal-Mart's New Nutritional Guidelines), we the people need to start taking better care of ourselves (including our kids) and not leave it up to the government – especially breakfast because IT IS the most important meal of the day.

    Kevin :: Glycotrainer
    On Twitter: @glycotrainer
    Web Site: http://www.GlycoTrainer.com

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