Special thanks to our guest blogger, Casey Dinkin from the Food Research and Action Center. Read on for Casey’s thoughts on the recent Orange County Public Schools Kick-off Event!
With Breakfast in the Classroom up and running in all five districts, it is now time to start celebrating! The program is successfully reaching thousands of additional children throughout the country with a nutritious breakfast in their classroom each morning. To get the word out about this achievement, each district is hosting a special media event. These kicked off on April 28 in Orange County, FL.
Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), with support from the Walmart Foundation, hosted a kickoff celebration at the Holiday Inn Orlando Airport. Principals, teachers, food service staff, and other community members attended the event, which featured speakers from the district, region, and country. Representing Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom were Danny Seymour from the School Nutrition Foundation (SNF), Lisa Sharma from National Education Association Health Information Network, and myself.
We all assembled in a conference room at the hotel, and heard from OCPS’s nationally recognized Director of Food and Nutrition Services Lora Gilbert, who spoke on behalf of the OCPS Food and Nutrition Department. Mike Cahill, President of the Orange County Teachers’ Association, reiterated the unions’ commitment to the program. Danny Seymour, Dean of Education for SNF, spoke on behalf of Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. Cheryl Lester, Regional Manager for Walmart, expressed pride that the Walmart Foundation chose OCPS for this program. Finally, Dr. Keith Ayoob, a pediatric nutritionist from NYC, presented on the science behind Breakfast in the Classroom
Dr. Ayoob’s presentation outlined why it’s important to eat a quality breakfast, and all of the studies that show how brain functioning is directly related to consumption of breakfast. The healthier the breakfast, the better the function, and the longer that the brain retains that level of function as the hours pass.
Also fascinating was all of the science Dr. Ayoob presented about the association between breakfast consumption and lower rates of obesity and Body Mass Index. This is true in both adults and children. As someone who sees numerous cases of childhood obesity in his office every day, its prevention is a cause near and dear to his heart. As he said, “What I like most about this program is that it creates a healthy habit.”