I can’t stop thinking about breakfast.
I wake up every morning, and the first thing I do is eat breakfast. I’m unlucky, and my body isn’t a big fan of waiting to put fuel in the tank. If I delay this part of the day, I’m setting myself up for a morning full of fog and grogginess. It’s not a matter of caffeine intake, mind you- that usually doesn’t happen until an hour or three after I’ve woken.
As a result of knowing this about myself, I make sure two things are always true:
- My house has supplies for breakfast
- I am up early enough to allow time to utilize those supplies
I’ve begun to realize in recent years that both of those things are not true for many people. Often there’s a trade off between sleeping time and waking early enough to eat. Or there isn’t (for one reason or another) food around to eat. Or- and I’ve seen this in my own very young children- some people need to wake up a bit before they eat a meal.
But, sooner or later, not consuming calories in the morning begins to have negative effects on people. It’s science, folks.
Time for an analogy, people. If we, as educators, are a race car team, we are looking to extract as much performance out of our cars as humanly possible. We try to buy the right (and best) equipment. We try to hire the best and most dedicated staff and drivers. We work long hours and think hard about changes that we might make to extract more and more speed and performance. So far so good, right?
So why would a race car team not care about the quality of gas they put in their car’s tank?
Many of you might not know that race cars don’t (usually) run on pump gas- what we buy at the gas station. Typically, normal household cars run on something like 87 octane gas. High-end cars might require 91 or even 93 octane to run properly. And when I say properly, I don’t mean “best” or “at maximum potential.” I mean run. Once, years ago (and before kids) I owned a silly car. As a result of some changes I made to it, it would not run on less than 93 octane. The engine computer simply wouldn’t allow it. Running anything less than 93 octane had a very real possibility of physically damaging internal engine parts (bending valves being the most likely).
If we want to maximize the performance of our students and prime them to be in the best possible learning condition, how do we ignore the fuel they use? We can’t. I know there are long and in-depth laws regarding what may and may not be served in a school. Fine. That’s great. But for our best bang for the buck we need to be dealing with breakfast. Here’s couple of reasons:
- Most of the school day is before lunch.
- The way you start a day has a lasting effect on the quality of the rest of the day
- It’s a chance to front load nutrition for the day
- It’s the most neglected meal
I’ve written before about my thoughts on a school fruit bowl. That’d be a great start. I don’t think you even need to go wildly beyond that. Some yogurt (can you imagine home-made yogurt? Awesome). Some granola, maybe. Maybe, if this is a working thing, we do a once-a-week big breakfast event thing. Trot out the big guns. Eggs. Who knows?
I know we have breakfast for a population of students that need it right now. That’s a good thing. I’m simply arguing that they all need it- and that if they need it, it’s an opportunity to tilt the field in their own favor and set them up for success.
Now, where to find the money?