We have heard it a million times, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and this is especially true for young students. Anita Gilvesy is the executive director at Investing in Children. It is an organization that has been in the community for 15 years with a big focus on literacy and numeracy, but they also help schools in London Middlesex get funding for nutrition programs.
As of right now, Investing in Children is supporting breakfast and snack programs at 87 schools. These programs are not just for schools whose families show financial need because there are many reasons why students go to school hungry. Gilvesy says, “We really put emphasis that these are universal programs, so we don’t discriminate that there are some high need schools or individuals. Quite honestly, if a child is coming to school hungry it doesn’t mean that they have come from a lower class or a single-parent household. It is a reflection of lifestyle.”
She goes on to say, “We have schools with double bussing, so some kids are getting to school really early. I know myself, personally, I can’t eat first thing in the morning. Also, in most households, both parents have to work, so while breakfast can be left for the children to eat, they don’t always eat it.”
Does breakfast really make a difference in the day of a child? MacDonald says, “Research has shown that it does. It helps them preform better academically because they can concentrate. There are less discipline problems. A good example of this is last year I went to see a program at a secondary school here in the city, and I was talking to the vice principle. She said when she has someone sent down to her office for discipline issues, the first thing she asks them is ‘Have you had anything to eat today?’ and she said over 90 percent of the time the answer is ‘no’.”
The foods the schools serve are monitored by Investing in Children to make sure they are healthy options for the students. “We have guidelines that we ask they follow. For example, if you are serving a meal you have to have 3 out of the 4 food groups. And we go check to make sure that is happening.”
Gilvesy hopes to one day see a nutrition program in every school in London. She says that students need to learn the importance of a healthy breakfast and see for themselves the difference it makes!