Donna Martin, EdS, RD, LD, SNS and Director School Nutrition Program for the Burke County Board of Education, and I spoke to a group of energetic school nutrition professionals at the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) Annual National Conference (ANC) last week. The room was at capacity with 240 people coming to hear our talk, “Thinking Outside the Shell for Exceptional School Meals and Performance” (sorry to those who couldn’t fit in the room).
How exactly do you think outside of the shell? Start with breakfast, of course! I started out by talking about the new nutrition standards for school meals. In addition, I reviewed the fact that childhood hunger is prevalent, and that if children miss breakfast, it can be hard for them to make up key vitamins and minerals the rest of the day.
Donna went on to explain her efforts with the program providing breakfast in the classroom in her district. She has been very successful in her Georgia schools. Below are some key points from her presentation.
How does breakfast in the classroom affect student performance?
- More positive attitude towards school
- Less likely to be tardy
- Less likely to miss class
- Improved math and reading scores
- Fewer reported discipline problems
What makes a great breakfast for schools?
- Offers a variety of foods students like
- Easy to prepare
- Increases participation
- Meets National School Breakfast Guidelines
- Affordable to produce
Donna also showed many photos of breakfast successes, like Sunny Face Eggs (above), and the audience had wonderful questions regarding implementing breakfast in the classroom.
SNA ANC was a great experience. I was able to sit in on sessions and see what school nutrition professionals were doing to improve school meals even more. Plus, the exhibit hall was full of products to sample that met the new school nutrition guidelines. I was able to try a Homestyle French Toast that used eggs to provide 1 meat/meat alternative as well as 1 grain from whole wheat flour.