March is National Nutrition Month. Please use this time to emphasize the importance of making healthy food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Other school nutrition-related activities are recognized during March, including School Breakfast Week (March 8–12) and National Agriculture Week (March 14–20).
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in partnership with the School Nutrition Association (SNA), recognizes March 8–12 as National School Breakfast Week. Among the top priorities of USDA is increasing participation in the School Breakfast Program. This year’s theme, “School Breakfast: Ready, Set, Go!” teaches students that eating school breakfast prepares them for a day of learning and achievement.
In Virginia, approximately 38 million school breakfast meals were served last year. The School Breakfast Program is available to all students in Virginia. School breakfast is an important component of the academic process. Research shows that children who eat a good breakfast have better nutrition and are more likely to succeed in school, which can lead to fewer behavioral problems, better attendance, and fewer dropout rates. Increasing the number of students who eat a nutritious meal as part of the School Breakfast Program is an important step in improving the health and the academic achievement of Virginia’s students.
March 20 is National Agriculture Day during National Agriculture Week. During this time, schools have the opportunity to expand their Farm-to-School efforts to support Virginia-grown products, to begin plans for a school garden, or to incorporate nutrition and agriculture into classroom activities.
Please join with local school nutrition staff throughout the month of March to support nutrition and healthy choices. Help Virginia students reach their full potential by learning about proper nutrition and the role healthy food choices and physical activity play in academic success and a healthy life.
Free resources to promote and teach about school breakfast, farm-to-school initiatives, and healthy food choices are available on several Web sites:
The USDA’s Web site offers many materials and resources on these three events in March and several links for additional information: http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=14&tax_level=2&tax_subject=258&topic_id=1225
The School Nutrition Association offers activities, lessons, and other resources focusing on School Breakfast Week: http://docs.schoolnutrition.org/meetingsandevents/nsbw2010/
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) highlights Virginia agriculture and Farm-to-School initiatives: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/marketing/farm.shtml
The American Dietetic Association offers several resources for National Nutrition Month and beyond, to assist teachers in incorporating nutrition into classroom activities and lessons: http://www.eatright.org/nnm/ and http://www.eatright.org/NNM/content.aspx?id=5342
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact the school nutrition program specialist assigned to your division or contact Catherine Digilio Grimes, director of school nutrition programs, at 225-2074 or Catherine.Digilio-Grimes@doe.virginia.gov.