A Dairy Farmer’s Perspective: Why I Support School Breakfast

Author: Alison Kosakowski Conant, Vermont Dairy Farmer
blond woman carrying child and feeding calf

Dairy farmers work hard to provide wholesome food for our communities, but for many American families, keeping healthy food on the table is a struggle.

As a farmer, I’ve come to realize we need to do more than simply produce nutritious food, we also need to work harder to make sure everyone in our community has access to it. That’s why I am so proud our farm is one of the many New England dairies supporting school breakfast.

We’ve all heard the saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It’s true, especially when it comes to kids and learning.

Research has shown that kids who start the school day with a healthy breakfast have a huge advantage socially, behaviorally, and academically.

Children experiencing hunger are more likely to struggle with attention problems, more likely to have difficulty getting along with classmates, and more likely to score poorly on tests.

It’s not hard to understand why: when you’re hungry, everything feels more difficult. Hunger-related irritability, forgetfulness, and an inability to focus are so common, there’s even a popular, tongue-in-cheek term for it: “hangry.” But there’s nothing funny about kids going hungry.

That’s why eating breakfast is so important. Kids who show up at school with a belly full of nutritious food have a huge advantage. When you really think about it, it’s remarkable that something as straight-forward as eating a meal can make such a big difference in a child’s education.

But for many kids, it’s not so simple. In the United States, an estimated 1 in 5 kids lacks proper nutrition at some point during the school year. 1 in 6 kids may not know where they will get their next mealIt is astonishing, and heart-breaking, that in a country so prosperous, so many of our kids go hungry

When breakfast is served in schools, all kids have a chance to thrive. No matter what’s going on at home, whether their parents or caregivers are struggling or just too rushed, all kids are provided with the same nutritious start to the day.

Research has found that when kids eat breakfast together in the classroom or after the bell, the gains are even more significant. Kids who are served nutritious food after the school day begins are much more likely to eat breakfast than those who simply have access to food in the cafeteria before school starts. When students eat closer to class and test-taking time, they perform better academically.  Also, eating together in the classroom creates a sense of community among students.

Classroom breakfasts serve as an equalizer, giving all kids a chance to meet their potential.

As a farmer, I am so proud to support school breakfast programs across our region, in partnership with New England Dairy and Food Council.

As a mom, I am so grateful this program exists within our community, to help our kids learn, grow, and thrive.

Learn more about School Breakfast and read about School Success Stories on our website. Make sure to follow New England Dairy & Food Council on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, where we’ll be talking about National School Breakfast Week (March 5th-9th) using the hashtag #NSBW18.

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