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Celebrating the "Most Important Meal of the Day" for MI Kids

About 382,000 Michigan kids eat school breakfast each day. (USDA)
About 382,000 Michigan kids eat school breakfast each day. (USDA)
March 10, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - Schools around Michigan are celebrating the most important meal of the day during National School Breakfast Week.

The School Breakfast Program provides low-cost or free breakfast to eligible low-income school-age children, but data from the Food Resource and Action Center shows that slightly more than half of Michigan students who received free or reduced-price lunch at school also participated in the School Breakfast Program.

Justin Rumenapp, director of Michigan Hunger Solutions, said universal breakfast - the offering of breakfast at no charge to all students - could help increase participation.

"It's just a great opportunity to fuel up the kids for their day," he said. "Kids do better on tests, kids show up on time more often, and it helps create sort of a culture of health within the school."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility provision allows high-poverty schools that meet certain guidelines to offer breakfast and lunch to all students free of charge. About 60 percent of eligible schools in Michigan have adopted the provision.

Each day in 2015, an estimated 382,000 Michigan children ate school breakfast. Rumenapp said school nutrition leaders are dedicated to ensuring that students get the nutrition they need.

"The new school food mantra is to create really great, healthy menus that kids enjoy," he said. "There's a lot of passion around that, and hopefully, as a result of School Breakfast Week, parents can kind of see some of the opportunities that are in their districts."

Districts in Michigan are highlighting nutrition programs this week, offering special menu items, hosting speakers and including families in school meals.

Data is online at frac.org and michigan.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI