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Jul 08, 2016 09:01 PM EDT

NYU Researchers Back New York City’s Move To Serve Breakfast In The Classroom; Find Out Why!

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A research conducted by New York University's Institute for Education and Social Policy along with the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs discovered that by serving free breakfast in New York City's classrooms, the number of students eating breakfast has considerably boosted.

What's even more commendable is that despite more and more students participating in school breakfasts, there was no hike recorded in the prevalence of obesity in New York City schools, contrary to what some critics may have anticipated.

On the flip side, breakfast participation did not seem to promote students' academic accomplishment or their attendance either, according to the study published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

The School Breakfast Program is a federal program that funds school breakfasts for "nutritionally needy" children, and this year the program celebrates its 50th anniversary.

 Just like school lunch programs, school breakfasts intend to curb food insecurity, enhance nutrition and make learning easier.

Ideally, breakfast programs takes place in school cafeterias just before classes begin, however several districts throughout the nation have embraced a different way by serving breakfast in classrooms at the start of the school day.

The idea behind moving breakfast into the classroom is to boost participation in breakfast programs, specifically among students who fail to arrive early, and even more importantly, to minimize the shame that comes along with a trip to the cafeteria, says Amy Ellen Schwartz, who serves as the director of the NYU Institute for Education and Social Policy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan Chair in Public Affairs at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Since 2003, New York City has been offering free breakfast to all students and it initiated breakfast in the classroom program back in 2007.

Nearly 400 of the city's 1,800 public schools offer breakfast in the classroom now, and over 30,000 classroom breakfasts are served daily.

The New York City Department of Education divulged that following the implementation of breakfast in the classroom, there has been a radical hike in terms of participation - from 25 percent to 80 percent to be precise - according to a post on New York University official website.

Apparently, moving breakfast from the cafeteria to the classrooms offer an array of advantages such as enhancing academic performance, attendance as well as engagement. In addition, this move reduces hunger and food insecurity.

But not everyone is a fan of this change. Many have raised concerns that offering breakfast in the classroom could actually lead to weight gain as well as obesity, as few students might end up consuming extra calories by eating breakfast twice - one at home and one at school.

Taking the data from the New York City Department of Education, and its Office of School Food into consideration, the NYU researchers focused on students in kindergarten through eighth grade at about 200 public elementary and middle schools that offer breakfast in either some or all classrooms. Researchers studied school breakfast and lunch participation, along with their height and weight measurements as well as administrative data such as attendance, demographics, reading test scores and math test scores in grades 4 through 8.

The researchers noted a considerable increase in school breakfast participation when breakfast was served in the classroom, while lunch program participation, on the other hand remained unchanged, EurekAlert reported.

Despite the hike in the number of students participating in the school breakfast program when served in the classroom, researchers did not see any sort evidence proving that the breakfast program led to obesity.

Serving breakfast in the classroom did not have any impact on attendance either, which researchers believe this may be because attendance rates are already high as far as elementary and middle schools are concerned.

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