CLAXTON - Many people have heard that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day," but do they know why, or if it is true?
Tonya Blocker, school nutrition director of Evans County Schools, talked about the essential morning meal to mark National School Breakfast Week.
Eating a balanced breakfast can reduce fatigue, help banish the blues, and improve concentration and alertness, Blocker said. Children who eat breakfast each day also perform better academically since their growing bodies and developing brains rely on the regular consumption of food.
If a child skips breakfast, he or she could end up going for as long as 18 hours without food, she said, puting him or her in a state of semi-starvation, potentially resulting in physical, mental and behavioral problems.
"By fueling up their brains and bodies with nutritious meals," Blocker said, "kids will be more efficient in just about everything they do."
The same results are true for adults, she said. Those who skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight are actually more likely to gain weight than lose it.
Skipping breakfast has been linked to the development of obesity and can actually make weight control more difficult.
In celebration of National School Breakfast Week, launched in 1989, students in Evans County are receiving nutrition book marks, nutrition education handouts, and food guide pyramid pencils all month long.
The School Breakfast Program was established in 1966 as a two-year pilot project designed to provide grants in assisting schools serving breakfasts to "nutritionally needy" children.
In 1975 the program received permanent authorization from the federal government.
School breakfast must meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, said Blocker, and provide at least a quarter of the recommended dietary allowances for protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C and calories.
The decisions about what specific foods to serve on the menu and how they are prepared are made by the school system's food service director, she said, with input from parents and students.
Breakfast is available to all students in Evans County each school day, said Blocker, and during the summer feeding program.
"Parents need to make sure their children have a chance at a good start each day," said Blocker, "by making sure he or she eats breakfast each day, either at home or at school."
During the 2010 school year, 158,284 breakfasts were served in Evans County schools, she said, with an average cost of $1.63 per meal.
For more information about the School Breakfast Program, please contact Blocker at 739-3544 or a school's cafeteria manager.