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In the public’s mind, kids and breakfast are equated with sugary cereal or pastries like donuts. However, kids need to eat healthy at the start of the day to see a number of benefits. Yet not all parents can or will do this. That’s why schools are increasingly stepping in to offer and providing healthy nutritious breakfast to students.

Here are 23 reasons why schools across the country or maybe around the world are providing healthy nutritious breakfasts to students.

Reason 1: It reduces tardiness.

Children who come in for breakfast before school are by definition not going to be late for school’s official start time.

Reason 2: It improves overall school attendance.

Kids who don’t care about school per se may still come to get breakfast and lunch. This reduces absenteeism among kids who otherwise aren’t academically motivated. This is one reason why students need healthy nutritious breakfast from school administrator’s point of view.

Reason 3: It motivates parents to get kids to school.

Sometimes kids skip school. Sometimes parents don’t care whether or not the kid is late for school. Parents are more motivated to bring kids to school early if it provides breakfast.

Reason 4: It simplifies morning logistics.

Grab a donut and rush out to get the bus. Give the kids a cereal bar before you drive them to school. Traffic jams are reduced if the kids are dropped off sooner rather than later, and the school providing breakfast gives everyone impetus to arrive sooner. Furthermore, feeding kids eliminates the supervision concerns that come with dozens of kids arriving early. What are they doing? They’re eating breakfast, not running wild through the halls.

Reason 5: It reduces behavioral problems.

When children are given a healthy breakfast, they’re less likely to get into trouble. They are less likely to fail to follow instructions because they weren’t paying attention.

Reason 6: It improves attention.

Children who don’t get enough to eat are tired throughout the day because they are hungry. Children who are simply malnourished by the modern diet have more behavioral issues like fidgeting and ADHD, as well. Giving children a healthy breakfast thus improves attention in the classroom and reduces the distracting issues that can interfere in learning for even well-fed, healthy kids.

Reason 7: It reduces illness rates.

A healthy breakfast doesn’t just reduce the odds a child is zoned out during the day. A proper breakfast high in protein and vital micro-nutrients day after day reduces the child’s odds of getting ill. Then they’re less likely to be out due to illness.

Reason 8: It can reduce conflict.

You can’t solve every social ill with a good, healthy meal provided to everyone, but it can help. If everyone has access to the same healthy menu in the morning, then poorer children aren’t mocked for having cereal when someone else had a luxurious meal. And if they’re eating the same thing together in the morning, there’s less difference seen between groups, as well. For example, eating together can create a greater sense of community among the children.

Reason 9: It teaches them healthy eating habits.

Some parents don’t know what constitutes a healthy breakfast, while others don’t care. A few can’t afford to provide what counts as a nutritious breakfast. When children are told they’re receiving a healthy breakfast at school, they learn through observation what counts as healthy eating. For example, children who’ve never heard of clean eating may learn about it when being told why they’re offered specific foods.

Reason 10: It sets them up for a lifetime of good health.

Eating foods rich in calcium, iron and protein now improve bone health and prevent anemia later. It reduces the odds they’ll be overweight or have high blood pressure later. And that’s aside from the benefits of developing healthy eating habits.

Reason 11: It expands their horizons.

The definition of a healthy breakfast differs from household to household, and the menus someone may offer their children can vary, as well. Schools offering meat and vegetarian alternatives are introducing children to these foods, though they may not get it at home. Children may eat fruits, vegetables and grains their own parents wouldn’t serve. Their palette expands, and it is not intrusive.

Reason 12: It sets them up for a more active lifestyle.

Kids who are hungry in the morning are not likely to get much needed exercise at recess. Even if they eat a full lunch, they are unlikely to keep up with the other kids in PE after lunch. Giving children a healthy breakfast ensures they can run and play throughout the day.

Reason 13: It is cost effective.

Mass production lowers costs. And the same is true for cafeteria food versus single serve options purchased at the grocery store. In this regard, it can be cheaper to offer breakfast to all students in the school than for a small group. Furthermore, this program hardly costs any money relative to the benefits. Yet it frees up money in households reliant on welfare to spend on healthier food or buying in bulk so that they can take advantage of economies of scale. For example, they may now be able to buy a gallon of fruit juice or five pounds of apples versus a smaller, cheaper container.

Reason 14: It is discrete.

It can be embarrassing to take the only backpack full of cafeteria leftovers home. And not everyone wants to or can get to the food bank. Providing healthy breakfasts to half or more of the kids makes it normal, acceptable and non-embarrassing.

Reason 15: Grades go up.

Eating enough and healthier is associated with improved academic performance. Conversely, poor diet or insufficient food hurts children’s academic performance. Studies have shown that the 10 to 30 percent of students who skip breakfast have ten to fifteen point lower scores in reading and math.

Reason 16: It can keep kids engaged year round.

Free breakfasts and lunches offered at school year round can end up keeping kids academically and socially engaged, too. If you come to school for free lunches over the holiday breaks or the summer, why not pick up extra books to read or attend an enrichment? Now you lose less knowledge over the summer.

Reason 17: It doesn’t interfere in instruction time.

Serving snacks during the school day interrupts instruction time and puts a burden on teachers. Serving healthy breakfasts in the cafeteria eliminates this problem without leaving kids hungry.

Reason 18: It prevents kids from sleeping in.

If you have to get up to get breakfast at school, you’re less likely to sleep in until the last minute, grab unhealthy options and run out the door. In this regard, providing a healthy breakfast contributes to healthier sleeping habits.

Reason 19: Disciplinary issues are reduced.

Hungry kids may not care about the rules, and stealing someone else’s money becomes the moral decision. Abusing a kid who is desperate to protect their banana and peanut butter sandwich because they have nothing else can be a source of entertainment for bullies, too. Provide the same breakfast and lunch to everyone, and there is less to fight about or make fun of.

Reason 20: It closes the performance gap.

Children in poor households have lower overall academic achievement, regardless of race. Food insecurity and malnutrition contribute to this. By providing healthy breakfasts to everyone, it raises academic performance for children in the lower class and, incidentally, in black and Hispanic communities. While it won’t make up for a language barrier, a lack of dads in the home or lack of reading in the home, providing healthy meals will close the performance gap somewhat.

Reason 21: It improves their thinking.

Problem-solving ability and creativity are enhanced when children eat a proper, healthy breakfast. Over a long span of time, a healthy breakfast program can boost the mental performance of children who otherwise will suffer cognitive defects.

Reason 22: It increases energy levels.

A healthy breakfast won’t just fight the low energy level that comes with low blood sugar or outright hunger. It will increase kids’ energy levels throughout the day. They’re more likely to be in a good mood and have higher self-esteem.

Reason 23: They’ll be healthier overall.

A high protein, high carb, low sugar breakfast reduces the odds kids over-eat when sugary and fatty snacks are presented later. This means kids are less likely to dive into chips and sweets when they get home from school. This is why kids who eat a healthy breakfast tend to have a healthier BMI and blood chemistry than those who don’t, whether they’re eating toaster pastries or nothing at all.

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