Football ‘Giant’ in North Colonie to tackle breakfast at school

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Every year in early March, the School Nutrition Association highlights the importance of a nutritious school breakfast to fuel students for success.

National School Breakfast Week was established in 1989 as an annual observance that promotes the value of a healthy, school breakfast for students in K-12 schools.

This year’s theme, “Dig Into School Breakfast” has extra significance because it gives schools an opportunity to not only encourage students to “construct” a healthy breakfast, but also recognize the amazing school food service staff who have worked and continue to work tirelessly to “build” meals for students each and every day.

The School Breakfast Program plays an integral role in helping reduce child hunger, bolster student success and improve health. One of the most effective ways to boost school breakfast participation is to make it part of the school day.

Kids who eat school breakfast are more likely to have a better overall diet, eating more fruits, dairy and a variety of foods. Any food items served at breakfast must meet strict dietary guidelines created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The American Dairy Association North East hosted other anti-hunger groups for a conference that focused on the efforts being made to ensure that students continue to have access to healthy breakfast every day.

The conference was held in the North Colonie Central School District at Forts Ferry Elementary School.

New York Giants running back, Matt Breida spoke at the conference to pledge his support.

“It’s a big problem, a lot of kids don’t get it [breakfast] in the morning and I feel like that’s a big part of success in school,” Breida said. “There was a point where I didn’t really eat a lot of breakfast and I know in the mornings I was a lot more tired, more sluggish, and once I started eating breakfast, I noticed I was able to pay attention better in class, my test scores improved, and it helped me get to where I am today and accomplish my dreams and goals.”

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government allowed waivers to offer free school meals to every kid across the nation. Those expired at the start of this school year, and since then, there’s been a big fallout in terms of kids losing access, a lot of school meal debt has accumulated and schools are looking at how to make school meals more equitable for children.

According to Jessica Pino-Goodspeed, the Manager of School Meals Policy and Engagement for Hunger Solutions NY, there is work being done on the state level to establish statewide free school meals for all children.

“This would be a huge, tremendous impact for New York state, there is such strong support,” said Pino-Goodspeed. “This type of policy would level the playing field. Our neighbors in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont have all taken on this policy and taken the next step, so we’re excited for New York to be the next.”

Pino-Goodspeed says she is hopeful state-wide free school meals for all children will be included in the final state budget on April 1.