The American breakfast table has changed dramatically since the Pilgrims landed and settled in Massachusetts in 1620. Rising early to begin their chores, our forefathers began the day with a spartan meal of cider and corn meal mush cooked over the embers all night, topped with maple sugar or molasses, according to the Oxford Encylopedia of Food and Drink in America.
Today we have a striking selection of breakfast choices, but most Americans pressed for time in the morning do not take advantage of this largesse. Many eat no breakfast at all, and others choose a quick breakfast of cereal, coffee and some fruit, according to one of the largest surveys ever conducted on breakfast and morning mealtime routine. Kellogg Co. (www.kelloggs.com), Battle Creek, Mich., surveyed more than 14,000 Americans of varying ethnicities, income levels, geographic regions and ages earlier this year and found that while the vast majority of Americans feel breakfast is important, the reality of hectic mornings makes it difficult to fit the meal in every day.
While more than half (54 percent) of all adults would like to eat breakfast every day, only one-third (34 percent) actually do; Nearly all moms (89 percent) want their kids to eat breakfast every day. However, 40 percent of moms report their children don't eat breakfast daily.
Nearly all toddlers and preschool-age children are eating breakfast; however, consumption of breakfast dips as American children grow older. 77 percent of young children eat breakfast every day, but the number falls to 50 percent in the middle-school years and 36 percent among high school students. Although moms report a desire to see their kids relax in the morning and concentrate on eating breakfast, many kids are too busy watching television, getting their homework done or getting ready for school to do so.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack marked National School Breakfast Week (March 7-12) by emphasizing the administration's commitment to provide school children with healthy, well-balanced meals to prepare them for a productive school day. Working with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative, USDA is enhancing programs that will help to raise a healthier generation of students who will enter the classroom ready to concentrate, engage and learn.
"A nutritious breakfast will help our children learn better and have the energy needed for academic success," said Vilsack. "By ensuring all children have access to a healthy breakfast, we help lay the groundwork for a successful day and build a foundation for achievement that will help our kids win the future."