Campbell column: The most important meal of the day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 16, 2012

My day isn’t officially under way until I’ve had my strawberry Nutri-Grain bar and chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast. It’s the perfect way to satisfy my sweet tooth without eating a doughnut.
In college, my breakfast usually consisted of some kind of biscuit and orange juice. I was into Pop-Tarts during high school.
I’m a big advocate of eating breakfast every day. I don’t see how people manage to get anything done before lunch if they have nothing in their stomach.
But eating breakfast isn’t an option for everyone. When families are on tight budgets, breakfast is an easy meal to ditch.
I’ve never had to go to school hungry, but some children do.
So it’s good news that the Kannapolis City school system decided to start offering a universal breakfast.
As of March 1, every student in the district will have access to a free breakfast. That includes the 72 percent of students who normally receive a free or reduced-price lunch, as well as those who typically pay. The $1.10 price tag for breakfast will be completely eliminated.
The move is a win-win for students from all socio-economic backgrounds.
Offering a universal breakfast helps “remove the stigma for low-income children” participating in school breakfast, according to the Food Research and Action Center, a national nonprofit origination that works to eradicate hunger and undernutrition.
Even students who can afford to pay will likely benefit from a wider variety of foods to choose from at school. The offerings typically include nutritious options like fresh fruit and milk.
But filling young stomachs isn’t the only positive.
“Schools that offer breakfast free to all students in the classroom report decreases in discipline and behavior problems, visits to school nurses and tardiness; increases in student attentiveness and attendance; and generally improved learning environments,” the Food Research and Action Center states on its website.
The center also cites studies that show students who eat breakfast show an increase in math and reading scores as well as improvements in speed and cognitive tests.
Sounds like eating breakfast is the right choice. A choice that is now available to all students in Kannapolis.
Sarah Campbell covers education for the Post.
Contact her at Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.