The Ohio Poultry Association (OPA) is discovering ways to work with farmers to get Ohio eggs in local schools and provide children with an “eggcellent” breakfast in the classroom.
“Breakfast in the classroom is becoming increasingly important, and research shows children do better when they’re provided with a great breakfast in the morning, especially protein. And, of course, eggs fit that bill,” says Jim Chakeres, OPA executive vice president.
According to Chakeres, OPA recently began exploratory research with the American Egg Board and the Ohio Egg Marketing Program to learn more about how to provide eggs in the classroom for breakfast. They are targeting a variety of school districts, both urban and rural, and of varying sizes.
The research is focused on food services and the school environment to determine how best to introduce more eggs into the schools rather than specifically educating teachers about the nutritional benefits of eggs. OPA already has initiatives in place to educate and inspire teachers, students and families.
“We’re trying to learn about food service in schools, and we’re helping the schools learn more about eggs and their availability and how we can help to provide that,” Chakeres says.
School food service insights include food trends, consumer needs, production, safety and handling and more for the versatile, nutrient-dense egg.
“This research is not only for providing breakfast in schools, but breakfast in the actual classrooms,” he explains. “We’re asking how can we work with them to provide this wholesome, nutritious product in a form that works for the schools. We’re looking into how can we provide something that is delicious and different.”
In the spring of 2017, OPA visited several districts in the state to perform its research.
“A lot of this is currently exploratory; we’re just starting. Some schools are using eggs in different forms, and we have to see how we fit into that school system,” Chakeres says.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, an egg breakfast induces greater satiety and significantly reduces short- term food intake compared to a bagel breakfast. Eggs also have been proven to improve memory and cognitive skills.
“Much of what we see in the schools is carbohydrate heavy,” Chakeres says. “Research says with the help of protein, kids perform better, are more alert and they have a greater capacity for learning. And when you eat the high-quality protein found in eggs in the morning, you consume fewer calories throughout the day; that would also help with childhood obesity.