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Breakfast at a K-3 School: What We Are Feeding Our Children

Peil, Kerri Carroll
Educators spend a huge amount of time preparing and teaching students the skills and concepts they deem necessary for their success. Teachers, schools, and districts are held accountable for student learning, and elaborate systems are developed to assess their achievement. But there is a critical period in our school day that may be negatively impacting student learning and has been left to non-educational agencies to manage. It is an area where the consequences for children may in the end make a more dramatic difference in student's lives than even invaluable academic skills. What area could both be this overlooked and hold such impact on student learning? School meals. This study was designed to document the actual breakfasts selected by K-3rd grade students to determine if these choices equaled a nutritious meal according to the USDA. In addition, breakfast selections were compared to published menus and were reviewed for a number of additives, preservatives, pesticides, sugar levels, and GMOs. The study found the students' highest selected meals consisted of Ready-To-Eat cereals, prepackaged muffins and chocolate or white milk. Nutritional analyses as compared to the USDA regulations showed the meals were within the proper range for total fat, saturated fat, protein, and calcium, but none of the three meals met the recommendations for calories, iron, Vitamin A, or Vitamin C. Students selected fruit with only 19% of the meals, and over 92% of the total meals offered contained high levels of added sugar. In addition, foods were found to contain numerous chemical additives, including GMO's. A fairly extensive history of the National School Lunch Program was included as background for the research project.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries