While doing research on school breakfast programs, I came across some “food for thought.” I always assumed that everyone understood the importance of breakfast, but, as with most of my assumptions, I was wrong. My assumption comes from health officials and good ol’ mom who call breakfast the most important meal of the day. I grew-up with this idea implanted in my brain every morning; consequently, I follow and believe it.
Unlike my upbringing, a myriad of other people did not have the same experience learning to follow nutritious guidelines. It’s not that my mom was a health nut, but she raised my family the way she had been raised. My mom always says that my grandma was a nutritionist before they existed; she (my grandma) was constantly reading up on health and nutrition issues for food and exercise. Grandma had a home remedy for everything. A fourth generation, with my nieces and nephews, is now learning the many health lessons my grandma learned.
So, what does this rabbit trail have to do with the school breakfast research I have been doing? While I’m pondering the methods/models used to increase breakfast participation in schools, I’m thinking that outreach needs to go deeper than sending out flyers or providing meals at school. Breakfast is a lifestyle, not simply a free meal to give children so their reading and math scores rise.
We must begin with the importance of breakfast for health reasons in the family and in the school. The breakfast program needs to be supported on all sides in order to become a morning ritual again. With research and science proving the positive effects of breakfast, I wonder why so many chose not to eat this morning… maybe for the same reason I ate two desserts last night. We know what’s good for us, but we don’t always do what we know is right. My questions are, “How do we turn healthy choices into habits?” and “How do we encourage and begin healthy traditions?”