Should school breakfast be served in the classroom?


ChildObesity180 presents
The Breakfast Effect Some school districts offer free breakfast
to all students before school in order to increase participation rates
in the School Breakfast Program. Others are moving this free breakfast
from the cafeteria into the classroom, where it’s served to all children
at the start of the school day. This model,
known as Breakfast in the Classroom, provides breakfast to students
within the first 10 minutes of class time and all children eat breakfast together
with their teachers. Some have argued that this approach
decreases instructional time and may have a negative impact
on academic achievement. Others fear that students
will eat two breakfasts, one at home and another in the classroom, putting them at risk for obesity. However, recent studies have shown the opposite: that breakfast in the classroom
actually has a positive impact on student health and achievement. Dr. Amy Ellen Schwartz and her colleagues
at New York University recently concluded
a large-scale study of children who were exposed
to Breakfast in the Classroom. What our results tell us is that there’s no evidence that Breakfast in the Classroom
increases childhood obesity. We see nothing like that. We see some evidence
that it might actually decrease obesity, decrease BMI. So that’s really striking. We also looked at a bunch of other outcomes of Breakfast in the Classroom. We looked at the impact on attendance; we find that Breakfast in the Classroom potentially has a little bit
of an effect on attendance, in the sense that it might improve attendance. We see maybe a teeny bit of evidence
that it will have a positive effect on academic performance
and engagement in school. So I think from the point of view of the parents, this is, again,
a happy story. If Breakfast in the Classroom
comes to your school, this is something you should be supportive of
and embrace. Drs. Imberman and Kugler
also recently conducted a study of Breakfast in the Classroom, and found a positive relationship between breakfast in the classroom
and student achievement. It especially benefited Hispanic students, students who were previously low-performing, and students with lower than average BMI. What we found is very positive. We found that bringing breakfast into the classroom in a large urban school district in the southwest allowed children to improve their performance. They increased performance in math and they increased performance in reading, this is in terms of test scores. So this is extremely promising. In fact something that we found, we gathered data from the school district to find out, well did this actually increase the cost
for the school district. And what we found is that serving the breakfast
in the classroom decreases the cost as opposed to providing these breakfasts
in the cafeteria. It was cheaper for them to move the breakfast
in the classroom. Despite this cost savings, some critics worry that breakfast in the classroom
is a burden for teachers
and other school staff. However,
Dr. Charles Basch of Columbia University reviewed several studies of school breakfast and concluded that this
concern is unfounded. It turns out that implementing
Breakfast in the Classroom is not a difficult program to implement, despite the fact that sometimes
people think it might be before they try it. But in efforts to do so, it’s been very successful
and shown to be acceptable to the different participants in schools and feasible to implement. These studies are encouraging, but there’s still much to understand. How does Breakfast in the Classroom affect health
and learning in the long run? Does bringing children together for breakfast build relationships
or a positive school culture? Are there any negative consequences
to breakfast in the classroom? Despite these unanswered questions, this initial body of evidence suggests that offering the school breakfast program for free to all children within the classroom may be highly beneficial
for students’ health and ability to learn. ChildObesity180 presents
The Breakfast Effect

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