School Breakfasts Offer Kids the Right Start to Their School Day
I don’t ever remember eating breakfast at school and because I was a particularly picky eater (all the way up until I started dating my husband), I didn’t take part in breakfast at school. I’d rather have my bowl of cereal or oatmeal (Yes, I love oatmeal, even today!) at home and then my dad would drive me or I’d walk to school. Still, even though I wasn’t getting my morning fuel at school, I always had a good breakfast to get me off to a great start.
My kids started requesting to eat breakfast at school when they saw that many of their friends were getting to go into school early and eat. Until then, they’d eat at home. Breakfast would often be a healthy cereal (cereals with cartoon characters adorning the front are rare in my house), french toast or pancakes with toast and juice or milk.
At first, I was hurt, “what’s wrong with our cereal and milk?” I’d cry to them. Their response was always: Nothing; they simply wanted to eat with their friends.
And so… I caved. I started sending extra money to school so they too could go in and eat breakfast with their friends. I didn’t need to, I could have played mean mom and made them eat at home anyway, but it made them happy and I learned that they’re learning to try new foods at a much younger age than I did. My philosophy is if it gets them to try new foods then so be it.
The one thing I worried about was the nutritional value of what’s offered in a school breakfast. A post I wrote a couple of years ago examined the nutritional value of the school lunch programs that schools have. It’s hard for school districts to budget affordable and yet healthy foods into schools everywhere. While schools are still struggling to maintain a balance between healthy food options and sticking to their food budget, they are getting better about the variety of foods that they offer and the nutritional value of the meals as well.
Next week, March 8th through the 12th is National School Breakfast week. Ironically enough March is also National Nutrition Month. (Coincidence? I think not.) I’m sure my kids will be asking to eat at school for breakfast and when the lunch calendar comes, we’ll chose breakfasts that they like and ones that I feel offer the best nutrition value for them.
I’m pretty passionate about making sure my kids eat well, whether they are at school or at home. All parents can stay involved by asking kids what they ate that day and looking over the school menu every week to see what will be served for breakfast and for lunch. There’s a great website called Schoolnutrition.org that offers resources to parents and even outlines how to talk to the nutrition director at your child’s school.
According to my kids they were the last kids in the ENTIRE SCHOOL to be allowed to have breakfast (if you believe that, I have some waterfront property to sell you).
What about your kids, do you take advantage of the school breakfast and lunch programs? Did you eat the school breakfasts or lunches when you were growing up?