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Encourage healthy breakfast!

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Kindergartners enjoy fresh fruit daily at Mingo County’s Kermit K-8 School where breakfast is provided free of charge for all children. Photo: Kate Long

 

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Older students at Kermit K-8 choose foods for a Grab ‘n’ Go bag breakfast, one of three ways breakfast is served. Photo: Kate Long

West Virginia now has the highest percentage of children in the nation who eat school breakfast.

Check out this national video featuring the state!

This is great news for several reasons: Children who routinely eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to become obese. They can also concentrate better, behave better and, as a group, have higher academic achievement, research shows.  “Hungry kids can’t concentrate,” said Rick Goff, director of the WV Office of Child Nutrition, “and unfortunately, we have a high number of kids who wouldn’t get breakfast if they couldn’t get it at school.”

“We’ve had far fewer discipline problems and less tardiness and truancy since this program started,” said principal Dora Chafin at Mingo County’s Kermit K-8. “When kids are hungry, they don’t concentrate and they are likely to act out.”

Kermit elementary-7

Fifth-graders at Kermit K-8 are served breakfast in their classroom, a third way of delivering breakfast to all kids. “It’s not as disruptive as it would be if we went to the cafeteria,” their teacher said. “We can get settled, then the kids eat, and I don’t have kids preoccupied with being hungry anymore.” Photo: Kate Long

Traditionally, West Virginia schools offered breakfast before class starts.  Health experts say that is one of the worst times to offer it. Many children are just getting off the bus, they’re sleepy, and they want to socialize. The Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act now requires all West Virginia schools to offer breakfast at at least one different time and in at least one different way. Schools can offer “Grab and Go” breakfast sacks or breakfast in the classroom after first period.

“Principals who have been doing it awhile say they have fewer disciplinary problems, and children are paying more attention in class, because they aren’t hungry,” Goff said.

Statewide, the number of students who eat school breakfast from 28 percent in 2003-04 to 38 percent in 2012-13 to XX percent in 2014. One percent equals thousands of children.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but we need help from parents,” said state Office of Child Nutrition nutrition director, Kristi Blower.  Schools can still serve Super Doughnuts and pancakes and syrup. “We’re trying to convince them not to do that,” Blower said. “But we can’t be out there at all the schools. We depend on parents to keep an eye on that.”

 

Want to help make sure your schools serve nutritious meals?  

 

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The younger kids at Kermit K-8 eat in the cafeteria, the original way of delivering breakfast. “We’ve had a big drop in discipline problems since we started this, and our absences are way down,” said Kay Maynard who oversees nutrition programs for Mingo County Schools. Photo: Kate Long

  • Get on the school wellness council. State and federal law does not give school wellness councils any authority, but the school council has to meet, and it’s a position from which you can negotiate.
  • The Federal law that requires school wellness councils –  the Healthy Hunger-Free Schools Act – is incorporated in West Virginia’s 2013 Feed to Achieve Act. State law now also requires schools to have a wellness council at the county level and a wellness policy at the county level.
  • Some West Virginia counties have adopted the Dairy Council’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program as their wellness policy. “That program goes right along with what USDA requires for local wellness, and the Dairy Council has an employee who can provide on-the-ground support,” Blower said.  Schools can also apply for $4,000 a year for items like serving carts and warmers to help serve in the classroom.
  • Look over the school menus on the county schools Web site. Let them hear from you if you don’t like what you see. Ask how you can help. Find out what steps they’re taking or planning to take.
  • You can find school-level information and a roadmap to an ideal meals program, plus healthy recipes, in the OCN’s publication, The Playbook: Creating a Model Food Service Program in West Virginia. http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Senate1/majority/poverty/ThePlaybook_forPDF.pdf

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    Children have fresh fruit and vegetables every day, and the sugar content of all cereals is significantly reduced. Photo: Kate Long

  • Who says breakfast is good for you? Here is research on breakfast and obesity. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese and more likely to do well academically.
  •  A Fresh Start for School Breakfast,” published by the School Nutrition Association includes weeks of menus and many solid tips.
  • Video:  “How to double the number of kids eating breakfast.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bU0ykEvJ0I . Charleston Gazette video shows three ways of serving breakfast, universal breakfast program through a visit to Kermit K-8, Mingo County.
  •  “West Virginia cooks learn new tricks.” A story on a cook training session, with recipe. http://www.wvgazette.com/News/theshapewerein/201206060140
  •  “Success from Scratch” / An overview of the nationally-recognized efforts of West Virginia’s Office of Child Nutrition http://www.wvgazette.com/News/theshapewerein/201204070047
  • A story about the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act:  http://www.charlestondailymail.com/News/statehouse/201402170004?page=2&build=cache

Also see pages on:  school cook training, teach kids how food affects them, use snacks to introduce new foods, attract kids to foods by presentation

 

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