Back to School, Back to Breakfast

There’s a reason the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” has been drilled into our heads. If you miss breakfast, chances are your entire day is thrown off-course—you’re hungry long before it’s time for lunch, meaning you have difficulty focusing on work. You might overeat at lunch or throughout the day to compensate—making choices that may not be the healthiest as cravings kick in. And all of this can impact your mood.

Science also backs up the need to start the day with breakfast. Skipping breakfast has been linked with numerous health issues, including disruptions to metabolism, obesity, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. [1]

For students, the list of breakfast benefits gets even longer. Studies show that regular consumption of breakfast has been associated with improved social performance [2], with teachers reporting better concentration, alertness and better behavior. [3] Breakfast helps ensure an adequate intake of essential nutrients [4,5], improves overall eating habits [6] and keeps students out of the nurse’s office (starting the day with food means students are less likely to have common complaints like stomachaches and dizziness). [7]

Incorporating breakfast into a daily routine seems like an easy choice, especially with all the pros it offers for students. But for food-insecure children and families, it’s not that simple. They may want to start their day with breakfast but our not financially able to do so. That’s where the School Breakfast Program comes into play.

The School Breakfast Program, including alternative service models like Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go, and Second Chance Breakfast, gives all students an opportunity to start their school day fueled and ready to succeed. Stories from around the state demonstrate the positive impact breakfast can have on students’ lives.

For example, Shelly Lyles, an elementary teacher in Fairfield ISD, still remembers a third-grader in one of her classes who frequently complained of stomachaches, which kept him from focusing in class. After several days, Lyles began to put the pieces together. “Did you eat today?” she asked him. “Well, no…” he said.

When his needs started to be met through school meals and other outside assistance, he had a chance to “become a regular kid,” Lyles said. ‘When the fear of not having food was taken care of, his focus was then on school work. He made friends. Before, all he wanted to do was get something to eat. He wasn’t able to focus. He wasn’t able to carry on a conversation. but once that was taken care of and his physical needs were met, he was able to move on to developing social relationships.”

Breakfast benefits for students are holistic, and that’s why, as we begin the start of another school year, we are celebrating the School Breakfast Program and the work to increase participation in it. We’re inspired by the creative strategies to make school breakfast work for campuses across the state. We hope you’ll join us in championing breakfast as a key part of each school day!

To learn more about the School Breakfast Program and read success stories about school breakfast from around the state, check out our free resource, the Texas School Breakfast Report Card.

By: Ashley Yeaman, Social Media & Communications Specialist, Texas Hunger Initiative


[1] Walton, Alice G. (2013). Why is Skipping Breakfast So Bad For Our Hearth Health? Forbes. Retrieved from

[2] Adolphus, K., Lawton, C.L, & Dye L. (2013). The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7. Doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00425.

[3] Brown, J.L., Beardslee, W.H., & Prothrow-Stith, D. (2008). Impact of school breakfast on children’s health and learning: An analysis of the scientific research. Retrieved from

[4] Augustine-Thottungla, R., Kern, J., Key, J., & Sherman, B. (2013). Ending childhood hunger: A social impact analysis. Retrieved from

[5] Nolen, E. and Krey, K. (2015). The Effect of Universal-Free School Breakfast on milk consumption and nutrient intake. Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

[6] Bhattacharya, J., Currie, J., and Haider, S. (2004). Breakfast of champions: The School Breakfast Program and the nutrition of children and families. Retrieved from

[7] Hartline-Graft, H. (2014). Breakfast for health. Retrieved from