Jennifer Woolard is the School Physical Activity and Nutrition Coordinator for the Vermont Department of Health's Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Division.

Jennifer Woolard is the School Physical Activity and Nutrition Coordinator for the Vermont Department of Health’s Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Division.

We’ve all been there. Frantically running around the house trying to get everyone out the door on time in the morning. You’re lucky if everyone has their shoes on, so how on earth are you going to have time for a healthy breakfast? Two words: school breakfast. OK, now breathe.

The 28th annual National School Breakfast Week is March 6-10, reminding us of the importance of eating a healthy breakfast and that your school’s breakfast program can help. Kids who eat a healthy breakfast do better in school, are on time, and are more focused in class. Eating breakfast is also important for keeping a healthy weight and preventing obesity and other health problems in the future.

The research is clear – breakfast is important.

All kids deserve a healthy school day. Here in Vermont, almost 1 in 5 kids don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. For too many, school meals may be the only meal they get that day. The Food Research and Action Center just released its annual School Breakfast Scorecard and found that across the U.S., the percentage of kids using the school breakfast program is going up (3.7 percent increase).

Vermont is ranked ninth in the country for the percentage of students using the school breakfast program, thanks in part to partners and organizations around the state working hard to build awareness. Many schools are also offering new programs like Hunger Free Vermont’s and New England Dairy and Food Council’s “Breakfast After the Bell Challenge,” where the meal is served as part of the school day instead of before school. Schools are also incorporating fresh local produce into their meals thanks to the incredible Farm to School efforts across the state!

Life is busy enough. The school breakfast program can make it a little easier. This National School Breakfast Week, take the School Breakfast Challenge and have your child join in your school’s breakfast program. Schools that take the challenge are encouraged to make it extra special with new menus, decorations, cafeteria events and more. You might even consider a school breakfast date with your child. It could be a fun chance to see what school breakfast is like and spend quality time together.

The School Nutrition Association has plenty of free downloadable tools to help your school organize the perfect celebration. Download them today and get started on making your “School Breakfast Challenge” campaign a success! Enjoy your breakfast!

Jennifer Woolard is the School Physical Activity and Nutrition Coordinator for the Vermont Department of Health’s Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Division. Her role involves working with schools, communities and statewide organizations to advance the health of Vermont’s youth through comprehensive, evidence based practices to improve nutrition and physical activity programs and policies. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Health. You can contact her at Jennifer.woolard@vermont.gov.

Christie Vallencourt is the Communications and Media Coordinator for the Vermont Department of Health’s Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Division. She has more than 14 years of public health experience in research, marketing and communications, with a focus on tobacco prevention, nutrition and physical activity. 

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