How Important is Breakfast for Children of the Reservations?
March 7-11 is National School Breakfast Week (NSBW), started in 1989 to raise awareness for the availability of the School Breakfast Program. By providing a free or reduced-cost breakfast to qualifying students at participating schools, the School Breakfast Program gives many children a healthy way to start the day, since children living at or near the Federal poverty level likely cannot access an equivalent breakfast at home.
Poverty is a common circumstance for many families. Across America, nearly 15 percent of families are living below poverty level, but even more Native American families — 26 percent — battle poverty. This impacts 21 percent of America’s children, but up to 33 percent of Native American children. A nourishing breakfast is critical for the overall well-being of Native children, as well as their health and educational achievement. According to the School Nutrition Association website, “Students who eat breakfast have better attention and memory. Research indicates the quality of foods children eat impacts cognition — with poor nutrition linked to absenteeism, hunger symptoms and psychosocial problems.”
Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) recognizes more than just breakfast is a continuing challenge for many Native families, and that one in four face food insecurity on a regular basis. PWNA and its donors help meet nutritional needs for more than 145,000 people each year. This includes gift-in-kind donations of food and water distributed through senior centers and food pantries, training communities to grow and sustain their own gardens and providing holiday meals for Native American Elders, children and families.
As you sit down to your first meal of the day – or pour that bowl of cereal for your child before he heads off to school – consider how different your day would be without the easy access of food in your pantry.