Denton’s Hodge Elementary School is among two schools being featured in Kellogg Co.’s national public service campaign next spring to stress the importance of eating breakfast.
Last week, representatives with the food company and a camera crew traveled to Denton for a video shoot at the school. They interviewed students, parents and school personnel on the importance of starting the day off with breakfast, and they shot footage of the school’s breakfast program on Monday and Tuesday.
The interviews will be used as part of the company’s “Great Starts” public service announcements, part of Kellogg’s “Share Your Breakfast” campaign, which will start running online during National Breakfast Week in March. Cypress Elementary School in Kissimmee, Fla., will also be featured in the PSAs.
One in five children goes without breakfast every day, said Andrew Simmon, customer marketing associate director for Kellogg’s Food Away From Home. “Share Your Breakfast” is a partnership with Action for Healthy Kids to donate 1 million breakfasts to children in need over the next year by helping schools create or enhance campus breakfast programs.
Simmon said the crew at Hodge attempted to capture images of children eating breakfast, the adults helping them, and stories of how breakfast has helped students.
“It really helps kids focus on school and being ready for school for the day,” he said. “So one of the things that we’re trying to find out is have parents seen that, have teachers seen that and then just asking kids questions like, ‘Do you like breakfast?’
“We really wanted to get some candid shots today with the kids eating breakfast and really interacting with the food but also interacting with their classmates and having fun at breakfast.”
Hodge school nurse Sam Teel had set a goal to reduce by 40 percent the number of children he saw each morning who had headaches, were fatigued or hungry or had stomachaches from skipping breakfast.
In the last few years, Hodge Elementary has received grants from both Kellogg’s and Action for Healthy Kids to support breakfast initiatives at the school. Over that time, the number of students visiting his office for not eating breakfast has dropped by more than 60 percent, he said.
When the last school year started, 160 children were eating breakfast at school, he said. By the end of the year, more than 300 were having breakfast at school. The number continues to grow and is now at about 350, he said.
Teel said he was contacted by a Kellogg’s representative about a month ago about participating in the public service campaign. He said it’s exciting to see breakfast become more important to Hodge students, as well as to get publicity for those efforts.
At first glance Monday morning, a trip to the Hodge cafeteria looked like any other day, with students sitting at tables and grabbing breakfast before the school day started. What stood out on this day was a camera crew. The crew filmed students during the meal and asked whether they enjoy breakfast and if it affects their overall day.
Student Talitha Moore and her sister were interviewed Monday about breakfast.
“It helps me concentrate more,” the fifth-grader said.
Having a camera crew on campus was exciting, she said. “I’ve always wanted to be interviewed,” Talitha said.
Joyce Renteria was among the parents interviewed Monday. She credits breakfast for the improvement in her son’s grades. For a period during the first six weeks of school, her son went without breakfast, and she noticed a difference. He wasn’t feeling well, and his grades dropped, she said.
“He wasn’t a big breakfast eater, so of course by 10:30, 11 o’clock if he didn’t have a snack from his classroom, his teacher would mention to me that ‘he said he didn’t feel good. Joyce, he looks white like he’s flushed,’ … and I was really scared,” Renteria said. “I thought something was wrong.
“So I thought, ‘OK, we’re going to start eating breakfast and see what will happen to you,’ and he does feel better now.”
Rosa Maria Cadena, whose three boys attend Hodge, said she too has seen a difference in her sons since they began participating in the school’s breakfast program this year.
They’re more cognizant of nutritional labels and the amount of sugar in food, and they’re willing to try new foods, including vegetables. Eating breakfast in the morning has led to a 17-pound weight loss for one son and a 6-pound weight loss for another, she said.
“My boys before, they would take cookies,” Cadena said. “They would eat cookies for breakfast, soda, everything. Since they started this, the first time they started eating breakfast, it was funny. My sons … they were like, ‘You mean I have to eat this? That’s not even going to fill me up,’ and you know I’m like, ‘Yeah, baby, it’s good.’ They tried it and at first they didn’t really like it, but then they got the taste of it. … They came more frequently, they liked it.”
Her eldest son, Romario, a fifth-grader, said he now has more energy throughout the school day. Cadena said eating breakfast has also improved her sons’ behavior.
“Before, they would be so unconfident about themselves,” she said. “Now I see that they have a positive attitude. They get up to come to school and they say, ‘I can do it. I can do it.’
“They’re just more active now. Before, you couldn’t get them to run or play in a football game or anything. Now they get up and they’re in there. They’re enjoying their fun time.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.