Expert finds school breakfasts can make a difference

by Emily Vontom, Published April 23, 2012

Everyone knows that a healthy breakfast is the best way to start your day off on the right foot. However, most school-age children aren't getting breakfast and Eastern Michigan University professor Alice Jo Rainville is trying to change that.

Rainville, an expert in nutrition, is concluding case studies on five school districts in the U.S. that have successfully used the in-school breakfast program. She was awarded a $60,132 grant from the National Food Service Management Institute Applied Research Division to help with the research and data collection.

"The purpose of this study is to investigate effectiveness of in-classroom breakfast programs and share the outcomes with school nutrition personnel, school administrators, teachers, school staff, parents and researchers," said Rainville.

According to Rainville's research, schools that offer in-classroom breakfast have experienced dramatic increases in student participation, which leads to increased revenue from the breakfasts.

Among her findings were:

  • A high school that served 50 breakfasts daily, led to an increase of 950 school breakfasts per day.
  • A K-8 elementary school with in-classroom breakfast program earned $70,412 yearly in excess revenue compared to a similar school that did not offer it ($29,813).
  • A middle school that began an in-classroom breakfast program in 2011, experienced a drop in disciplinary referrals from 377 in 2010 to 171 in 2011.

"In-classroom breakfast is important because it increases participation in breakfast, which decreases hunger and helps children focus in the classroom as well as improve school culture and have a positive impact on student behavior." said Rainville.

Rainville, who started her study in September 2011, has submitted her abstract to the School Nutrition Association for its national conference this July.


Emily Vontom

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