Saturday, September 10, 2016

Day 2: #SchoolBreakfastChallenge

Ate breakfast today
Do I get breakfast today or not? Why did I let them talk me into doing this? I like my morning rituals–so do kids, they like knowns. I can’t imagine a “ritual” of uncertainty. 

Today is my lucky day...I drew the breakfast card. As a kid this means I am fortunate to attend a school that offers free breakfast. Sadly, as I learned from a young friend of mine, that doesn't guarantee a meal...“The sidewalks were kind of messy from yesterday's snowstorm, so it took us longer to walk to school today. I made class but was too late for breakfast in the cafeteria.” 

Breakfast in the classroom would end that uncertainty and provide a healthy start to the day for every kid. So why is breakfast so important? Let’s explore the answer as I enjoy my breakfast sandwich. 

In one of the great paradoxes of our time, communities with the highest incidence of hunger also have the highest incidence of childhood obesity and health complications such as diet-related diabetes and heart disease! Ironically enough, here we sit in Hartford, the insurance capital of the world. The impact of hunger, poor nutrition, and obesity on health care costs in this country is a ticking time bomblikely to cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars in the years to come. But it doesn't have to...

Research shows that starting every day with a healthy breakfast has life-long benefits for both the individual and the community. The USDA, in partnership with the School Nutrition Association, has significantly improved the nutritional value of food served in schools. As a result, children who receive school breakfast experience lower obesity rates and greater productivity both in the classroom and in life. 

When President Truman started the school breakfast program almost 75 years ago it was in response to military concerns that too many WWII recruits were turned down because they were malnourished and not strong enough to serve. “Operation Readiness” now recognizes the importance of community health as a national security imperative.  This concern has since spread into public service arenas requiring healthy, fit bodies and mindsfire departments and police academies are also struggling to fill vacant slots with healthy young Americans. 

So why is breakfast so important? Food and nutrition is foundational to everything we do. Health and education outcomes are linked to our ability as a society to provide consistent access to healthy meals for every child in Greater Hartford and in America. Positive change is possible...let's not wait for the ticking time bomb to explode.

James Arena-DeRosa, President & CEO

Join the conversation by commenting below or sharing your thoughts on social media. Don't forget to tag @Foodshare and use the hashtag #SchoolBreakfastChallenge.

You can also follow my fellow CEO at the Connecticut Food Bank, Bernie Beaudreau, as he shares his SNAP Challenge experience this week.

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