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KY Schools Celebrate the Most Important Meal of the Day

School cafeterias are serving a wide assortment of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as part of their breakfast menu. (USDA)
School cafeterias are serving a wide assortment of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as part of their breakfast menu. (USDA)
March 6, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The most important meal of the day is being celebrated at schools across Kentucky during this National School Breakfast Week.

Each day, more than 300,000 students in the state get a healthy, nutritious meal before they start their day, through the federal School Breakfast Program.

Valerie Crouch is the School Branch Program Manager in the division of School and Community Nutrition at the Kentucky Department of Education. She says for some kids, school breakfast and lunch are their only opportunities to have a complete, healthy meal. And the benefits, she adds, cannot be underestimated.

"It enhances school attendance; less trips to the nurse's office; good nutrition also contributes to a child being ready to start their school day, being more alert and attentive in the classroom," she explains.

The theme of this year's National School Breakfast Week is "I Heart School Breakfast" - and students, parents and educators are encouraged to show their love for the program on social media. Crouch and her staff will be visiting schools around the state including districts in Fayette, Franklin and Scott counties.

Diane Pratt-Heavner, the director of media relations with the School Nutrition Association, says as they look to expand school breakfast participation, many districts are finding ways to make the meals more accessible.

"It can sometimes be hard for kids coming off the bus to get to the cafeteria in time for school breakfast," Pratt-Heavner says. "So, many schools are offering unique serving options. They're setting up grab-and-go kiosks or they're offering breakfast in the classroom."

Pratt-Heavner notes that the meals served at school meet federal nutrition standards that limit fat, calories and sodium. And she says many school cafeterias are serving fun options that include a wide assortment of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

"We're seeing yogurt parfaits and smoothies in the mornings," she adds. "Schools are also trying to incorporate more protein choices on school breakfast menus because protein can help keep a child satiated throughout the school day."

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY