Nutrition and student achievement: DCBOE partnering with Winn-Dixie

Published 6:30 pm Monday, March 12, 2012


Parent Involvement Coordinator, Decatur County Schools

Is good nutrition important for good learning? In a word, yes. Research has shown that children who regularly eat breakfast have better standardized test scores, have better behavior, have better school performance, have better overall cognitive development and tend to be less hyperactive than children who skipped breakfast. Properly nourished children more engaged in the education experience, which benefits them, their fellow students, and the entire school community.

Email newsletter signup

A healthy eating environment teaches children good nutrition and the elements of a proper diet, which can have positive effects on children’s eating habits and physical well-being throughout life.

USDA research indicates that children who participate in the National School Lunch Program have superior nutritional intakes compared to those who bring lunch from home or otherwise do not participate. According to DCBOE School Nutrition Director, Debbie Purcell, reimbursable meals (school meals) must meet federal nutrition standards. National School Lunch Program lunches provide one third or more of the recommended levels for key nutrients. Reimbursable meals must provide no more than 30 percent of calories from fat and less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat.

Children who eat healthy foods will be more likely to make better food and nutrition choices as adults. Unfortunately, studies shows that the opposite is also true — overweight children tend to become overweight adults.

Decatur County Schools Food Nutrition Program

Each day, the schools in the Decatur County School System offer approximately 5,300 students an opportunity to eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mandates that school meals follow the most recently published Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. This requires that all school meals must follow standards that qualify them as healthy meals.

Locally, menus are planned in advance to meet nutrient targets, including those for calories, vitamins and minerals, and to limit saturated fat and sodium, while also offering foods students like from all food groups. Special dietary needs, such as medical conditions and food allergies, must also be taken into consideration when planning menus. Emphasis is placed on offering a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in every meal we serve. Our staff works hard to serve our students fresh nutritious foods at both breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast is served daily at all schools at no charge for students. Most schools now offer “Breakfast in the Class,” which allows students more academic time at the beginning of the school day. When the bell rings, students are already in their class ready to begin the day. Breakfast provides much needed brain fuel to begin the learning process.

Lunch is offered according to each school’s lunch schedule. A nutritious lunch meal with choices is available daily. Lunch prices vary according to the benefits the family qualifies for, such as free or reduced-priced meals or full-pay prices. Please contact your school nutrition manager if you need a meal application or have questions.

Partnering with Winn Dixie

Winn-Dixie of Bainbridge also recognizes the importance of student achievement and proper nutrition. The store will be partnering with the DCBOE Parent Involvement Program and School Nutrition Program to host an interactive presentation on “healthy eating.” We look forward to bringing parents and caregivers of Decatur County students this 15-minute presentation by School Nutrition Director, Debbie Purcell, which will be held in the store’s produce section March 16, beginning at 11 a.m. and continuing every half hour thereafter until 1:30 p.m.

During the presentation, pharmacists and staff members of the Winn-Dixie Pharmacy will be on hand and available to share and answer questions related to diet, medicine and health. Qualifying presentation participants will also be able to register for a drawing to win a free Winn-Dixie grocery gift card and all participants may sample and take home healthy snack items provided by the store.

For their shoppers’ convenience, a Decatur County Schools Parent Involvement Information Board will be located at Winn-Dixie’s Customer Service desk. As you stop by to check out upcoming events and Parent Involvement information, be sure to thank them for plugging into Decatur County Board of Education’s Parent Involvement Program as we work together to increase student achievement.

Dr. Cheryl Guy is the Parent Involvement Coordinator for the Decatur County Board of Education. You can email her at