You’ve probably heard the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but did you know how truly important it is for school-age children? Studies show that students who eat breakfast make greater gains on standardized tests, pay attention and behave better in class, and are less frequently tardy, absent or visiting the nurse’s office. Eating breakfast is also positively linked with maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding health problems associated with obesity – a major issue for American children.
In order to emphasize the important role breakfast plays in education, Sodexo’s team at San Jose Unified School District is taking positive breakfast messages directly to students through different activities. Not only are we joining schools throughout the U.S. in celebrating National School Breakfast Week from March 5 through 9, but we also took our role promoting breakfast to the next level by participating in the annual Sodexo Future Chefs: Healthy Breakfast Challenge. This is a national program that uses activity and the spirit of friendly competition to encourage students to eat healthy and nutritious breakfasts at nearly 250 Sodexo-served schools in 27 states across the country.
Sodexo challenged all San Jose UnifiedSchool District middle school students to come up with creative breakfast recipes and submit them for review. The best 16 were selected for a district-wide finals event that involved the students preparing and presenting their healthy creations for a panel of judges. Based on the quality of the submissions we received, it is clear that our students are energized and excited about breakfast.
We were honestly blown away by the level of culinary talent displayed in the recipe submissions and we were especially amazed at how the students really focused on making healthy meals like spinach quiche, banana egg roll wraps and the district-wide winner, sweet potato sunrise burrito.
Not only did the students create great recipes, but they also did a great job of preparing them under pressure. Along with the supportive parents, faculty and administration members you would expect to see at an event like this, the 16 finalists also were being filmed and interviewed by a local news station throughout the three-hour event. It really felt like the students were on an episode of Iron Chef or Chopped!
At the end of the evening, the finalists went home with recognition medals, certificates of appreciation and goodie bags filled with things like cookbooks, basting brushes, water bottles, watches and pens. They also left knowing that the really accomplished something special!
Our district-wide winner, Sam Chamberlain, will now be in the running to become a Sodexo Future Chef national finalist. If selected, he will be asked to create a video of his recipe for a special Sodexo Future Chefs channel on YouTube. The public will then be able to view all finalist videos and vote to help determine our national winner.
Speaking on behalf of our entire team at the San Jose Unified School District, I can tell you that Future Chefs is a great example of why I love to work for Sodexo and I’m proud of the work we do making sure kids are happy, healthy and successful!
View the finalist videos from the 2011 Sodexo Future Chefs: Healthy Snack Challenge.
Karis Gulizia is operations manager for Sodexo at the San Jose Unified School District.