September is here and school is back in (or just about in) so the minds of parents is shifting from summer back to school mode: school supplies, packing lunches, homework and missed buses. Something that you might not think a lot about is breakfast.
Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Michelle Conway, an elementary school teacher and member of the Canadian Gymnastics Team for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 about the reality of hunger in Canadian classrooms.
Did you know that 1 in 7 Canadian children is at risk of going to school on am empty stomach, having not eaten anything for breakfast?
In her experience, Michelle told me that you can tell those who haven’t eaten because they are lethargic and disruptive and by 10am are asking for food or a snack. The teachers surveyed in the Kellogg’s Breakfasts for Better Days Survey spoke a similar story saying that hungry students are unable to concentrate, and more than half of those surveyed describe hungry children as “unable to learn”.
The survey also reported that nearly half of all teachers see children arrive at school hungry everyday, and 83% of teachers say the problems hasn’t gotten any better over the past two years and 25% agree that the problem has actually become worse.
At Michelle’s school they have started a breakfast club to help ensure more of the students are starting their day with breakfast in their belly, and from the stories she told me it sounds like they are making some serious impact in the lives of their students. The breakfast club offers a variety of breakfast foods depending on the day, and when a student wants a sugary cereal they allow it – but only if it is mixed with a healthier option. So instead of a whole bowl of Frosted Flakes, they could have 1/2 Frosted Flakes and 1/2 Corn Flakes. While sugary cereals can get a bad wrap, Michelle and I agree that anything is better than nothing when it comes to breakfast. So if you can’t get your child to eat anything else, try mixing a sugary cereal with a more wholesome option in order to get the food in! Michelle also told me that if you look at the sugar content on those cereals, most still make up less than 5% of the daily sugar intake for children (meaning those chocolate chip cookies they are having as an after school snack probably have more sugar than the cereal ).
Looking back on her gymnast days, I asked Michelle what her breakfasts would have looked like then. Knowing how many kids are involved in sports (especially early morning sports like hockey) I wondered what her experience was like. She said that when training she would be up at 6:00am and she would be at the gym for 7:30am where she trained for 3 hours so her breakfasts would be something nourishing and higher in carbs to help her fuel her training. She often had things like waffles, cereal, and sometimes a granola bar on the drive to the gym, and then would eat 5-6 meals/day to help keep her energy up. In the program she was in a high quality breakfast was really stressed which I’m sure played a part in her success as a gymnast! We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
Moving back to the school setting, you might wonder how a child being hungry in school might impact their learning. We already noted above that many teachers consider hungry children unable to learn, but the problem goes deeper than you might think.
Children who arrive at school hungry lose between 1 to 2 hours of learning time each day because of their inability to concentrate. This can add up to 388 hours or 65 school days(3 months!) of lost learning each year.
Kellogg’s is striving to make a difference with the Breakfasts for Better Days Campaign. As the world’s leading cereal manufacturer, they will donate one billion servings of cereal and snacks worldwide, half of which are breakfast, to children and families in need by the end of 2016. Since the launch of the initiative in March of 2013, more than 400 million servings of cereal and snacks have been donated, 230 million of which were at breakfast.
For more than 10 years Kellogg has supported breakfast clubs across Canada and this year, the Company is committed to donating even more and making it easier than ever for Canadians to buy a box and help feed children and families who need it the most. For every box of cereal sold, Kellogg Canada will donate $0.50 to a maximum of $50,000 to its breakfast partners across the country. This is in addition to the more than 1 million dollars donated to breakfast clubs from coast to coast to date.
Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way (other than having the pleasure of speaking to Michelle on the phone) for this post. I simply feel this is an important issue and wanted to help make parents more informed about how much breakfasts really do impact their children.
In a few days the moment will happen.
September will arrive. I know. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Summer is coming to a close once again, and we’ll all find ourselves thrown back into the routine of September and the fall season.
Autumn (for us posh folks) is my favourite season, it’s still warm and sunny, but cooler than winter so it’s okay to dig out those warm sweaters and wear boots. And of course pumpkin spice everything – but I digress.
Another great thing about fall is we instinctively want to get back on track, or routine and for many of us that means cleaning up our diets and getting back to regular exercise routines after what often turns out being a bbq and snack/drink-a-thon all summer with no time for exercise (because obviously eating bbq ribs > exercise). We all get it.
So it’s with the thought of getting back on track that I present you with a September DietBet named, “Let The Pounds FALL Off!” <– see what I did there? I know, my wit never ceases to amaze.
- You join the “game” and ante up $25 into the pot betting you will lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks
- You weigh-in at the beginning of the 4-week
- Spend the next 28 days losing your 4%
- At the end of the 4 weeks, those who have lost 4% or more body weight will have to submit a second weigh-in (or weigh-out if you will)
- All the winners will split the money in the pot
Lose 4% of your body weight – win money. Yup it’s true! I’ve been hosting games on and off for 1 1/2 years and over that time I’ve hosted 6 games which helped 807 people lose a total of 5004 pounds. It’s crazy to see it written out like that! What’ more, my players have on average a 49% win rate – meaning nearly 50% of the people who join my games meet their goal and win cashola!
Ar you ready to add your pounds lost to the total? Then why not join “Let The Pounds Fall Off” ? The game starts a week from today (Friday, September 5th) and will be over and done before Canadian Thanksgiving.
If you have been meaning to make a change in your life, of need a little extra push to keep you on your journey why not join? The next 4 weeks are going to go by one way or the other, wouldn’t it be great to kick off October 4% lighter than you are right now? To feel healthier and stronger? To know you have made a positive difference in your life?
Then what are you waiting for? Join today and start reshaping your health NOW!