The benefits of instilling healthy eating habits in youth are well-documented, influencing overall health, reducing chronic ailment risks and positively impacting academic success. However, despite these advantages, our newest GENYOUth Insights report reveals that almost half of youth admit they don't eat healthy all or most of the time. Some potential strategies for addressing this challenge, as outlined in the report, include nutrition knowledge, regular breakfast consumption, family meals, family support and being physically active. Alarmingly, students expressing concerns about food security are more prone to skipping meals, with over half of children from lower-income households reporting regular breakfast skipping.

This is where education institutions, purpose-driven corporations and key decision-makers within these organizations can help play a role—and a major one, at that. We've found that school breakfast is a proven solution to nutrition equity and food insecurity. However, barriers such as timing, accessibility and stigma limit participation, with only half of school lunch participants benefiting from school breakfast. So what's the solution? One recommendation is to embrace the "Healthy School Meals for All" concept by offering school breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge to families. Research shows this significantly increases school breakfast participation. Currently, just eight states have adopted this policy.

As stakeholders, it is our collective responsibility to champion the cause of nutrition equity, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive.

Schools can:

  • Expand school breakfast, including alternative breakfast opportunities at school in a variety of settings, such as grab-and-go carts and breakfast in the classroom.
  • Apply for a grant. As one example, our Fuel Up Nutrition Grant provides schools with a nutrition equipment package proven to increase the accessibility of school meals.
  • Make breakfast available when students want it, especially later in the morning (second-chance breakfast, later school start time).

Public and private sector organizations can:

  • Work collaboratively with school leaders, educators, school nutrition staff and students to identify needs and support solutions.
  • Engage students' own ideas, and equip and empower them to implement their innovative solutions.
  • Support school nutrition programs through outside funding and grants.

Read the full article about nutrition equity by Ann Marie Krautheim at Forbes.