Schools all across the country are setting aside a whole week to celebrate the most important meal of the day. National School Breakfast Week is March 7- 11, and area schools found ways to celebrate.
Breakfast is particularly important for growing children. According to kidshealth.org, children who have breakfast tend to have healthier diets overall and are more likely to participate in physical activities.
Skipping breakfast can make children tired or irritable and often leads to overeating later in the day. A good breakfast can also prevent high cholesterol, improve overall health and cut down on trips to the school nurse with hunger-related complaints . What children eat for breakfast is also important; foods that are low in added sugar and high in whole grains, fiber and protein are thought to benefit attention spans, concentration and memory.
Carmen Bell, cafeteria manager at Comal ISD's Oak Creek Elementary School, said breakfast gives students a good start to the day. Before Oak Creek began its Breakfast in the Classroom program, Bell said, a couple of hours after classes began some students would go to the school nurse complaining of stomach pains. They would then be sent to the cafeteria to get food.
"Our goal is to ensure eve1y student staits their day off with a wholesome meal so they can focus in the classroom," said Crystal Byrom, director of child nutrition for Comal ISD. "We offer a variety of breakfast items daily and emphasize fresh, whole ingredients and traditional student favorites."
The breakfast offerings, as with all meals served at Comal ISD, are in line with nutrition guidelines influenced by first lady Michelle Obama's school nutrition initiative.
"We offer milk, fruit, a juice and an entree every day for breakfast," Bell said, adding that under the new guidelines students are required to take either a jui ce or a fruit with breakfast. Students are also required to take either a fruit or a vegetable at lunch.
The children are getting used to the idea of eating healthier -even vegetables , Bell said. "We make five pounds of cooked carrots and five pounds of cooked peas, and we pretty much sell all of them," she said.
Bell said students get excited about all kinds of food when Chef Mario Perez comes to campus and gives a cooking demonstration.
"They love it," she said. "He could get them to eat anything."
Besides providing healthy food choices, Comal ISD also educates students about mak ing good decisions about what they eat, Byrom said.
"Annually, our Chartwells K12 dieticians develop the Food Focus of the Month nutrition and food education program ," she said. "The program educates students on the impact a fresh, whole ingredient has on their overall wellness as well as highlights the featured ingredient on the menu whether it is an ingredient in a recipe or an individual option.
"We offer many different types of fresh fn1its and vegetables, and they are incorporated into recipes that students love as well as served raw or cooked."
Byrom reiterated the importance of breakfast, and particularly the meals served on campus.
"For many students, the school nutrition program is a primary source of nourishment ," she said. "The school nutrition program allows us to support all students with healthy, great tasting meals and the nutrition education and resources to establish a lifetime of health and wellness."