Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam shared French toast, apple slices and milk with children at Millennia Elementary School in Orlando this morning to celebrate Florida School Breakfast Week.
This school year, schools throughout the United States implemented new federal standards that limit calories, require more whole grains and eliminate trans fat for school breakfasts. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services assisted Florida schools in preparing to meet the new federal requirements by providing materials and activity kits to promote healthier school breakfast.
“The new and improved concept of school breakfast will not only provide Florida’s next generation with the nutrition they need to get through the day, but will also give them a better chance to excel academically,” Commissioner Putnam said. “It was great to start the morning off right with whole grains and fresh fruit. The kids loved it.”
Research indicates there is a direct connection between nutrition and academic success. Students who eat a wholesome breakfast earn higher scores in class, have a better attendance record and are more likely to graduate high school. Recognizing the importance of school breakfast participation to academic success, Millennia Elementary sought to increase participation in school breakfast by improving the method of distribution. Students at Millennia Elementary can pick up free breakfast from carts conveniently located at entry points throughout the school before class begins.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is celebrating Florida School Breakfast Week Sept. 16-22. Students are encouraged to “Discover School Breakfast,” a theme chosen in conjunction with the state’s 500th anniversary celebration, Viva Florida 500. Schools across the state will be promoting the importance of school breakfast with themed posters, stickers, bookmarks and activity sheets created by the department.
The School Breakfast Program ensures that all students have access to a free or inexpensive breakfast. The program is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Many Florida schools recognize the importance of providing a healthy breakfast to all students and offer serving options in addition to the traditional method served in the cafeteria. Alternatives include “grab-and-go” bags available in convenient locations on the way to class, meals delivered directly to the classroom and self-serve vending machines.
Last school year, 124 million school breakfasts were served to children across Florida, a 5 percent increase from 2011-12.