Breakfast is Brain Fuel
A study from 2013 finds that the cognitive function of young students improves from the nutritional benefits provided by eating breakfast. Those who ate breakfast scored higher on standardized tests and had higher IQ scores later in life. Eating breakfast is particularly important for poor kids because they are more likely to eat meals with low nutritional value or fewer meals.
These results show how important the first meal can be for students. With this in mind the School Breakfast Program, launched in 1966, helps to alleviate hunger and poor nutrition for kids from low-income families who are at, just above, and below the poverty line by serving free or near free breakfast each day.
What’s surprising is despite the fact that 9 in 10 schools who serve free and reduced lunch also serve free and reduced breakfast, only 53% are utilizing the program. A few factors are at work here. A big obstacle is the associated stigma of being on a free and reduced meal program. Another is having the get to school earlier to take advantage of most meal programs. Some schools now serve breakfast after 1st period, in effect normalize eating these meals in class. Some schools in Chicago and Los Angeles have implemented grab and go breakfast options, making it it easier to obtain a nutritious meal to start the day without having to go out of the way to arrive early, which is often infeasible for low-income kids. Read more on the topic here.