If an apple a day can keep the doctor away, imagine what an entire breakfast can do.
In the Garland Independent School District they do not have to imagine; they see the results of a growing program that offers Breakfast in the Classroom.
Those results include fewer instances of tardiness, and a decrease in truancy, discipline problems and visits to the school nurse.
“Typically a kid will go to the nurse if their stomach is hurting. They don’t realize that those are hunger pains,” said Principal Tyisha Nelson of Ida Handley Elementary School.
Regarding the relationship between breakfast and discipline problems, Principal Nelson provides a straightforward connection.
“Because think about when you’re hungry. Are you in the best mood?” Principal Nelson said.
What began in five Garland ISD schools two years ago has now been expanded to 23 schools for the 2016-2017 school year.
The program does what its name implies – it offers breakfast to students at their desks every morning.
At Handley Elementary breakfast is served from 7:45 a.m. to 8, which is when the academic day begins. That means students must arrive early to get the food.
“It’s okay [to arrive early] because I don’t eat at home,” said Jaden Davis, 10, who spoke between bites of his pumpkin spice muffin and sips from his cup of apple juice. “So I get to come to school and have a free, delicious breakfast.”
In order to qualify for Breakfast in the Classroom, 80 percent of the students in the school must be able to qualify for free or reduced meals. But the breakfast is offered to every student.
Jennifer Craig is the Assistant Director of Nutrition and Menu Operations for Garland ISD. She helps decide which menu items stay, which appear more frequently and which are less popular.
The most popular items are the sausage biscuit and the mini cinnamon rolls, according to Craig.
“[Breakfast in the Classroom] gives them the nutrition to start the day so that they can focus and don’t have to worry about empty bellies or hunger. Some of these students may have not even had dinner the night before,” Craig said.
Breakfast in the Classroom is offered in dozens of school districts in 18 states.