A protein gap

On Monday, Austin Public Schools officials learned the results of a study by Hormel Foods Corp. on students’ eating habbits at breakfast. The results were concerning; the study found a protein deficiency among Neveln Elementary children. While we’re glad the schools and Hormel are partnering on this effort, local schools, parents and students should heed the warning and take the next step to correct the issue.

The solution is not an easy one; for some students, school breakfast and lunch are the only meals they eat each day, and requiring schools to completely alter nutrition plans could be expensive.

But district officials have made several changes to breakfast this year, and the study is another opportunity to examine students’ nutrition gap. We also encourage the district to follow through with the idea to provide Neveln parents at parent-teacher conferences with a guide to high-protein breakfast foods.

The study also found 14 percent of students skipped breakfast every day, which is higher than the national average of 8 percent and part of the problem here. The district could lower this number simply by working with parents who qualify for free breakfast but aren’t taking advantage of it. It could also improve its numbers by encouraging students to drink milk; the study found during one meal less than half of the students drank all of their milk.

This study is the first step in providing the proper nutrition and protein for local youth, which in turn could help them academically, as studies have shown. The district and parents should continue their effort to do something about it.

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