Online Program

Understanding Low School Breakfast Participation in the Heartland: Are Midwest values competing with school breakfast participation?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Natoshia M. Askelson, MPH, PhD, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Elizabeth Golembiewski, MPH, Public Policy Center, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Carrue Scheidel, MPH, Iowa Department of Eucation, Des Moines, IA
Patti Delger, RD, LD, Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines, IA
Introduction: School breakfast (SB) is an important strategy for addressing food insecurity and obesity in rural, low income communities; however, the rural state of Iowa ranks 47th in the nation for SB participation.

Methods: To explore why participation is so low, a state-wide online survey of parents (n = 8933) was conducted. The survey focused on perceptions of the program including barriers and benefits.

Results: Almost 20% of parents reported that their child never ate breakfast. Most parents were aware of SB, but only 8.3% of parents reported that their child ate SB every day. The most common reason for why a child eats breakfast at school was limited time at home, but 18% of parents reported their child does not eat SB because they view breakfast as a parental responsibility. While 21.8% of parents said there were no benefits to eating SB, 40% of parents perceived convenience as the biggest benefit to SB; they believed it was time saving (20.8%), and reduced stress in the morning (20.9%). Parents also perceived SB was for families with not enough money (44%) or time (43%) for breakfast at home. Almost 30% believed SB was for families that do not care enough to provide them with breakfast. Many parents perceived SB as healthy (45.6%).  Parents also provided ideas about how to improve SB and increase participation.

Discussion: The findings indicate parents have misperceptions about SB. The findings were shared across the state and will be used to develop interventions to encourage SB participation.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify barriers to participation in school breakfast. Describe parent perceptions surrounding school breakfast for their child. Determine strategies for improving school breakfast participation based on the results of this survey.

Keyword(s): Children and Adolescents, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI on this project. I have conducted multiple research studies examining school meal participation and parents' perceptions of school meals and the changed related to the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.