Breakfast in the Classroom Initiative
Since 2010, NEA Healthy Futures has worked in partnership with the Food Research and Action Center, the National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, and the School Nutrition Foundation – collectively known as Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (PBIC). This partnership initiative aims to increase breakfast consumption among students, and spark the academic and nutritional gains associated with the morning meal. For more information, visit: www.breakfastintheclassroom.org.
Why School Breakfast?
Many American adults and school-age children regularly suffer from hunger and food insecurity (not having sufficient access to affordable, nutritious food). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly 15 percent of Americans were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2013. That’s 45 million people, 16 million of which are children. On average, households that experience food insecurity are food insecure for seven months of the year. This means that for more than half of the year, members of the household have limited or uncertain access to nutritious, safe foods that are necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Hunger and Academic Achievement
At NEA Healthy Futures, we are concerned about hunger because of the established relationship between hunger, academic achievement and child health. According to the Food Research and Action Center’s Breakfast for Learning report, experiencing hunger can have many negative effects on children’s academic performance and behavior in school:
- Hungry children have lower math scores and are more likely to have to repeat a grade.
- Children experiencing hunger are more likely to be hyperactive, absent, and tardy, in addition to having behavioral and attention problems more often than other children.
- Children with hunger are more likely to have received special education services or mental health counseling than low-income children who do not experience hunger.
“We could not be happier with the fact that our students are full – they are ready to learn, and it’s because of breakfast in the classroom.”
– Tim Foster, Cochran Elementary School Principal in Louisville, KY
What Can NEA Members Do to Help?
It has been said that the single most important thing a student can do to support better academic outcomes is to eat a healthy breakfast each morning. As educators and education support professionals, NEA members can help reduce childhood hunger by promoting in-school meals such as those offered through the School Breakfast Program.
There are a variety of ways to increase participation in the school breakfast program, including removing affordability barriers and using alternative food delivery models.
NEA Healthy Futures has also developed free resources you can use to raise awareness about the School Breakfast Program at your school.