School nurse finds many Heights High students do not eat breakfast
Last year, many students visited school nurse Chris Bell complaining of headaches and stomachaches. After listening to them, Bell asked a simple question: “Have you had anything to eat today?”
Many said no.
Concerned by the number of “no” answers, she surveyed students for 67 consecutive school days to see just how many were eating.
Of the students who spoke with her, 28 percent reported they ate breakfast regularly; 6 percent ate sometimes; and an alarming 66 percent did not eat at all. Of the 66 percent who did not eat, they said that it was because they:
- Did not like breakfast;
- Had overslept;
- Did not have enough time in the morning;
- Did not have breakfast foods in the house, or did not have breakfast foods they liked in the house; and
- Did not like the cafeteria.
Time and again, research has shown that a nutritious breakfast to start the school day benefits students. It increases their ability to focus and concentrate, improves their performance in class, and decreases behavior problems. It is important that students have access to healthy food at the start of the school day so that they can learn and grow.
Action for Healthy Kids, a national nonprofit that works with schools, families and communities to help kids be healthier and ready to learn, awarded $1,571 to Cleveland Heights High School to implement a health and nutrition program this year. The grant is made possible by Action for Healthy Kids in partnership with Kellogg’s.
At the high school, the district's goal is to increase the number of students who eat breakfast daily by 25 percent. To help get there, a “grab and go” cart will be stationed outside the auditorium before school begins. The cart will offer warm and cold breakfast items, including yogurt, breakfast bars, cheese sticks, and warm breakfast sandwiches on whole grain buns.
Students will be surveyed during the school year as part of a continuing effort to identify the foods they like, the food choices they make, and how their behavior changes as a result of eating breakfast in the morning.
Angee Shaker is director of communications for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.