Last March, schools and families were frantically pivoting as decisions were being made to close schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school nutrition department was no exception and overnight, school nutrition heroes worked their magic to provide breakfast and lunch to students as they continued learning at home. Many schools even transitioned to outdoor meal pick-up sites for students to take meals home.
As we celebrate National School Breakfast Week this year, we highlight not only nourishing students, but the school nutrition heroes who work tirelessly to provide meals every single day - even over the weekends in some school districts.
School breakfast ensures that millions of children have access to food that nourishes their bodies and empowers them to be focused and ready to learn throughout the school day even over the weekends in some school districts. 1, 2
Each school breakfast includes:
- 1 grain
- 1 fruit/vegetable
With this year’s school breakfast theme, Score Big with School Breakfast from the School Nutrition Association, children who enjoy school breakfast score big with learning and activities throughout their day.
The benefits of children eating breakfast:
- Linked to better academic performance by scoring higher on standardized tests 2
- Have less disciplinary issues, leading to a more productive environment for all students 2
- Consume key nutrients and build lifelong healthy eating habits 2
School nutrition staff has been essential during this past year not just for students, but for the greater community. Throughout the pandemic, many schools transitioned from meals in the cafeteria to ensuring remote students receive meals at home. Not only did schools provide breakfast and lunch throughout the pandemic, but many offered additional food boxes at their sites that included bulk proteins, grains, vegetables, and gallons of milk, which helped feed entire communities, not just school-age students.
With children 18 and under, regardless of financial status receiving free meals until the end of June 2021, schools have continued to provide students emergency access to food. The transition has been remarkable - all thanks to the staff who have been on the front lines, passionately ensuring that children receive meals. From standing out in the freezing cold at pick up sites or hopping on a bus to drop meals off directly to a student’s house, school nutrition staff are true heroes for going above and beyond to nourish families during this challenging time.
Be sure to celebrate the school nutrition heroes in your district by reaching out with kind words to your district’s leadership. Visit your local school district website for breakfast/lunch information and encourage all children to enjoy school meals!
American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.