We all know higher gas and food prices are cutting deep into our own family budgets — $65 dollars to fill up! Milk at $3.99 a gallon! — but they are also carving holes into one program aimed at helping poor kids get better nutrition.
The federal school breakfast program gives nearly 10 million children the opportunity to start their days with a healthy morning meal at school, regardless of their ability to pay. Numerous studies have shown the benefit of starting the day out with a good breakfast (Mom was right!) so it was troubling for many educators to learn lawmakers are eyeing cuts to the states’ share of the federal program to save money.
Last month, Florida lawmakers citied the economy in shelving a bill that would have mandated free morning meals by 2010 to all children attending schools where a high percentage of the students come from low-income households. In Rhode Island, legislators tried to figure out the impact of a proposal to cut the state’s contribution to their breakfast program, about $600,000, entirely.
The Washington D.C.- based Food Research and Action Center says children and adolescents who eat breakfast are significantly less likely to be overweight, since skipping breakfast is associated with a higher risk of obesity.
They also say research shows offering breakfast at school improves studentsâ€™ attendance, increases their attentiveness and achievement, and reduces school nurse visits.
A full report on the benefits can be found here.