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School Breakfast Top Priority for NJ School District

Harrison School District Superintendent Dr. James Doran is committed to improving the learning environment for children in this small New Jersey town. Part of that commitment was on display during National School Breakfast Week when I visited Lincoln Elementary School with Dr. Doran to see first-hand how schools in Harrison have championed breakfast in the classroom.

Lincoln has more than 600 students who have enjoyed breakfast in the classroom for the past two school years. But this year Dr. Doran expanded the program to include both the middle and high school, ensuring that even more students begin each school day with a nutritious breakfast. The District decided it was best to offer breakfast after the bell to all students because, according to Dr. Doran, “all the research indicates that children who eat breakfast perform better academically and tend to be more attentive.”

Rose Tricario of the NJ Dept. of Agriculture; James Harmon of the U.S.D.A Food and Nutrition Service; and Harrison School Superintendent Dr. James Doran visit a second-grade classroom during breakfast-time.

And Harrison School District is not alone. I am delighted to report that districts throughout New Jersey understand how eating breakfast helps children maintain a healthy weight and gives our youngest generation the greatest chance at success. In fact, New Jersey is one of only 10 states in the nation to have a double-digit increase in participation—up more than 16 percent between the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. There are 86 more schools in New Jersey providing breakfast this year, that’s more than 19,000 students compared to last year.

Food Service Director Mike Pizza said the breakfast in the classroom is a hit with the kids, especially when whole grain muffins are served. And with a new kitchen and cafeteria opening at Washington Middle School this spring, kids will enjoy an even wider selection of hot meals at breakfast including freshly-prepared egg sandwiches.

I applaud Harrison Schools for sharing USDA’s commitment to making sure children get the best start possible each day. By providing all of our children access to nutritious and well-balanced meals, we not only improve the overall health of kids, we also improve their learning potential the students’ chance at a brighter future.

 See other blog posts in this series: