March 4-8; School breakfast promotes health and learning.
The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) celebrates National School Breakfast Week, March 4-8, 2013. This week-long celebration recognizes the importance of the School Breakfast Program and its role in preparing students for academic success. Nationwide, more than 12 million students begin their day ready to learn because they eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast at school.
In Maryland, nearly 200,000 students eat school breakfast every day and enter the classroom prepared to make the most of their academic day. Research has shown that students who eat school breakfast are less likely to miss school, are more likely to arrive on time, make fewer visits to the school nurse, have less discipline problems, and score better on some standardized tests.
Maryland’s local school systems have been innovative in their approach to providing breakfast to students by finding creative ways to overcome barriers to program participation. One state funded national model, the Maryland Meals for Achievement Program, serves breakfast in the classroom in 271 schools throughout the State daily. "Grab and Go" breakfast, another innovative meal delivery system in 180 schools, allows students to pick up breakfast on their way to the classroom, while other Maryland schools serve breakfast after first period as a "Second Chance" breakfast.
"Maryland, the number one school system in the nation for the fifth consecutive year, is continuing its commitment to making school breakfast available to all students. Every day we see the connection between good nutrition and academic achievement." said State School Superintendent Lillian Lowery.
In 2010, Congress revised the School Breakfast Meal Pattern through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. The revised nutrition standards are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine. The changes take place over the next 3 years when students will be offered low-fat and non-fat milk choices, increased portions of fruit, and more whole grain choices.
School meal menus are developed locally by the school system’s nutrition director. When planning menu choices, directors must consider federal regulations, nutritional quality, affordability, and student preferences. We applaud the work of all those involved at the local level to ensure that students are fed healthy meals every day.