FCS breakfast

Franklin County Schools board member Chuck Fletcher, left, and Superintendent Mark Kopp go through the cafeteria line at Westridge Elementary School in this State Journal file photo.

Turns out mama’s daily reminder about breakfast being the most important meal of the day is no myth.

Having a meal after waking up might be the single most important food decision of your day because it fuels not just your body but your brain, say health experts.

“School breakfast is one of the best ways to boost student achievement, reduce absenteeism and improve student nutrition,” said Kate McDonald, KY Kids Eat coordinator at Feeding Kentucky.

Which are a few of the main reasons why local and state school officials are focusing on providing morning meals to children through the School Breakfast Program.

“We are serving approximately 2,200 breakfasts per day for 2019,” said Wendy Greenwell, school nutrition program director for Franklin County Schools, which has an enrollment of about 6,500.

Four years ago, the district, which participates in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, implemented the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), allowing all enrolled elementary students — regardless of income level — to receive breakfast and lunch at no cost each day. Parents do not need to submit applications for students to participate.

Since starting CEP, FCS has seen an 8% increase in the number of breakfasts it is serving.

“Before the CEP, in December 2015, we served about 24% — approximately 1,550 breakfasts per day,” Greenwell told The State Journal. “For December 2019, we served 32% of the students breakfast.”

Across Kentucky, the program served 292,773 students during the 2018-19 school year, according to the School Breakfast Scorecard — a report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) on Tuesday.

The state ranked fifth for the number of participants, reaching 67.4 students with school breakfast for every 100 eating school lunch — which is close to the FRAC national benchmark of 70.

“I am excited to see Kentucky maintaining an upward trajectory for breakfast participation,” said Lauren Moore, director of the Kentucky Department of Education’s Division of School and Community Nutrition. “This reflects the continued commitment made by our sponsors to identify and serve the needs of our children.”

Nationally, nearly 12.4 million children participated in the School Breakfast Program on an average school day during the 2018-19 year.

FCS will mark National School Breakfast Week with an "out of this world" theme March 2-6.

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