Breakfast takes center stage

Published 10:48 pm Thursday, March 5, 2009

It’s the most important meal of the day, but somehow it gets left in the shadows.

But not this week.

This week is the National School Breakfast Week, and to celebrate, Suffolk Public Schools have been offering special themed breakfasts, gift give-a-ways and reinforcing the nutritional benefits of a good breakfast.

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The School Breakfast Week was launched in the late 1980s by the School Nutrition Association.

“It originated to try to bring a focus to the National School Breakfast program and the good things we do in bringing nutrition,” said Robert Morris, assistant supervisor of food and nutrition services for Suffolk Public Schools. “It definitely focuses the attention there and just drives the point home that eating breakfast is important for these kids and their overall education day.”

Throughout this week, students in the school system who received a school breakfast also received toys and gifts, such as stickers or bookmarks. On certain days, there were also “tray-giveaways,” where students who picked a specially marked tray could win coupons redeemable for healthy snack alternatives.

Morris said programs like these help educate children on the importance of starting the day with breakfast.

“Breakfast helps students be more focused in the classroom,” Morris said. “When they’re coming in, it just gives them the energy they need to concentrate and pay attention. Often when schools come to SOL testing time, we get a lot of focus from the schools, the principals and even the PTA. Some of them will feed all of the students breakfast in the school, because they feel so strongly it will help in the testing. Breakfast is an important meal of the day.”

In fact, research done by the School Nutrition Association shows that children who eat breakfast have improved memory, problem-solving skills, verbal fluency and creative abilities.

Morris said the week’s programs are also popular with the students.

In addition to being National School Breakfast Week, this week also marked the celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. In honor of that event, the school’s food and nutrition services presented students with an array of lunch items, including green eggs and ham.

While Morris went around the schools to check on the Seuss-ian lunches, he noticed a large number of the students wearing their stickers from breakfast and carrying around the toys they won.

“They were excited about it,” Morris said. “The kids still came in with their stickers on, and they were excited about everything else we had planned for the week.”