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Healthy morning meals make a difference in the classroom


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Principals at schools with Kids Eat Smart Clubs, the community-based nutrition programs supported by Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador, see a positive difference in their schools after starting a Kids Eat Smart Club.

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Principals at schools with Kids Eat Smart Clubs, the community-based nutrition programs supported by Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador, see a positive difference in their schools after starting a Kids Eat Smart Club.

Kids Eat Smart supports 225 volunteer-run Kids Eat Smart Clubs throughout the province. It provides grants for food and equipment, an operating structure, nutrition education for volunteers, health events, and other supports to help start and sustain Clubs.

Kids Eat Smart takes an evidence-based approach: Clubs are surveyed annually for program outputs, and bi-annually for outcomes. Principals at schools and directors at community centres that started a Kids Eat Smart Club are surveyed after their first year. The 2011-2012 school year saw the start of 14 Clubs, and principals saw wide-ranging benefits. Comments include:

  • Happy, smiling children having breakfast together (improved school climate). Improved attention spans. Healthier snacks, lunches have been noted. (School District 2)

  • Students appear happier, few or no complaints about stomach aches or wanting to go home. Students are more focused in class, overall positive atmosphere. (School District 3)

  • Observe less behavioural problems… fewer stomach aches and disinterest in general (School District 3)

  • Informally youth made many positive comments about having healthy options available and having the chance to try new foods (Community Centre, School District 4)

These reports are supported by a multi-year study coordinated by Easwaramoorthy Muthuswamy for the Toronto District School Board. In March of 2012 findings were released on ‘Feeding Our Future’, a nutrition program for 6,000 students at seven schools in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood. The evaluation aimed to determine the impact of the program on student health, behaviour, attendance, attention, and achievement.

The findings in general suggest that school breakfast programs providing access to a healthy morning meal to all students in their classrooms can be a valuable intervention measure to facilitate student success and well-being. The full study, Feeding Our Future: The First- and Second-year Evaluation (PDF) is available online.

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