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Eggs in Schools

The Incredible Edible Egg in School Meals

It’s a natural fit

So many menu options, so many on-trend possibilities, so many delicious meals – from one single product, the incredible, edible egg. Savvy school nutrition professionals know that today’s outstanding – and financially successful – meal programs are built on a foundation of interrelated factors. In order to maximize participation and customer satisfaction, school meals must meet nutrition standards, stay within budget, be appealing to customers of all ages and create a sense of trust within the school and community.

In an American Egg Board (AEB) survey, 85 percent of adult consumers viewed eggs as a nutritious, wholesome choice for their families.1 Optimizing the use of versatile, 100 percent natural eggs in your program can make a real difference in your meals, customer satisfaction and participation.



Top three reasons to add more eggs to your school menus

  1. Popular egg dishes can help increase Average Daily Participation. Every director wants to serve more school meals. The incredibly versatile and popular egg can help you increase participation both at school breakfast and lunch – with popular grab-n-go, mobile, transportable options for students of all ages.
  2. The affordability of eggs allows more menu flexibility. One large egg credits as 2 meat/meat alternates on school menus – at a cost of $0.20 or less per serving. Using eggs saves money on entrées – and allows menu planners to devote more tray cost to fresh produce and other more expensive items.
  3. Eggs provide versatile vegetarian and gluten-free options. The better you serve the dietary needs of your customers with delicious options, the more likely they will be to eat in your cafeteria rather than bring meals from home. As more students want vegetarian and gluten-free options, you will be able to serve them!

Eggs and breakfast benefits

Although scientific evidence is limited in school-aged populations, there are an increasing number of studies in adults supporting the benefits of breakfast. Here are some ways that eggs and breakfast may help students and staff in your schools.

Satiety and weight control

  • For about 70 calories, eggs are natural form of portion control. When eaten at breakfast, the high-quality protein in eggs, may keep individuals satisfied longer, helping them consume fewer calories throughout the day.3
  • Emerging research shows that a protein-rich breakfast with eggs can improve appetite control in adolescents who usually skip it. When teens ate an egg in the morning, they were less hungry and ate approximately 130 fewer calories at lunch.4

Breakfast and cognition

  • Multiple scientific studies demonstrate cognitive benefits for eating breakfast, especially for students of lower socioeconomic status. Breakfast at school can improve memory recall time, grades and standardized test scores.5,6
  • Research also shows that eating breakfast is a marker for overall health and improved behavior in school children. Breakfast eaters are less likely to miss school due to illness or other issues, and are less likely to be tardy to class.7
  • According to the 2015 Hunger in Our Schools: Share Our Strength’s Teacher Report, 8 91 percent of educators say breakfast is critical to achievement, while 75 percent of teachers regularly see children who come to school hungry.

Star Icon Children and teens need protein and other nutrients to grow normally, develop appropriately and stay healthy. Eggs provide all-natural, high-quality protein as well as varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals – the building blocks that young people need to grow and the energy they need to stay focused.

Star Icon Eggs are a familiar, popular breakfast item for students – and an easy-to-prepare option for other school meals. With high-quality, easily-digestible protein, well-prepared eggs offer students a delicious package of nutrients that provide them with mind and body energy.

Star Icon At any school meal, naturally nutrient-rich eggs can satisfy a child’s finicky taste buds with a familiar, convenient meat alternate, especially for vegetarians. Eggs are nature’s original form of portion control and are a good option for after-school snacks, especially before and after athletic practices and other events.

Star Icon  With about 70 calories, six grams of protein and optimal amounts of all nine essential amino acids, a large egg is packed with the nutrients that kids, teens and adults need. Eggs are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D.

Star Icon Today’s eggs are 14% lower in cholesterol than measured in 2002.2 Research studies over the past 40 years have suggested that healthy individuals can enjoy an egg a day without increasing blood cholesterol levels. Combining eggs with heart-smart foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and other lean proteins makes sense for all ages.

 

Egg nutrition



 

Eggs in school meals: Nutritious, versatile and affordable

Eggs are a natural fit in any school meal. Their nutrition, versatility and affordability make them a delicious meat alternate well beyond breakfast – into lunch, snack and supper meals as well. Eggs are also gluten free and acceptable to most vegetarians – making them even more versatile for school menu planners.

Eggs are nutritional powerhouses.
They provide some of the highest quality protein of any food and are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Eggs are a nutrient dense food, containing varying amounts of 13 essential nutrients in a package with only about 70 calories in one large egg.

  • The low calories in an egg gives school menu planners more flexibility to menu extra calories with other popular ingredients, like cheese or sausage.

Eggs are available to foodservice in a variety of forms, including fresh, refrigerated liquid, frozen and specialty prepared products. Most of these products are virtually indistinguishable from fresh eggs in nutritional value, flavor and functional properties. Eggs are sourced in the U.S., meeting all the procurement requirements for ‘Buy American.’

  • The variety of egg products available to school foodservice – from fresh to ready-to-serve – also provide menu planners with flexibility.

One large egg is credited as two meat/meat alternates in any reimbursable meal from breakfast to supper at a typical cost of less than $0.20 per serving. This means that eggs fit into every meal pattern at a lower cost than other protein, which can help offset higher costs of other items, like fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Using recent bid awards, here’s how eggs compare to typical school breakfast items:

 –  1 hard-boiled egg or 2 oz. egg = $0.19 (2 m/ma)
 –  ¼ cup scrambled eggs = $0.19 (2 m/ma)
 –  1 oz bowl pack cereal = $0.30 (1 grain)
 –  Mini-pancakes = $0.40 - $0.50 (2 grains)

NOTE: Since meat/meat alternates are not required at breakfast, ½ a large egg can (or 1 oz. of eggs) count as a 1 oz. equivalent grain when served with a 1 oz. equivalent whole grain-rich choice. Eggs can also be an additional menu item, so long as other requirements are met, and the eggs are included in the nutritional analysis.

  • Using the USDA Average Price File for Processors for SY2017, here’s how eggs compare to equivalent servings of meat/meat alternates for school lunch, snack and supper
 –  ¼ cup scrambled eggs = $0.189 (2 m/ma)
 –  2.0 oz diced chicken = $0.29 (2 m/ma)
 –  2.7 oz beef crumbles = $0.51 (2 m/ma)
 –  4.0 oz yogurt (regular) = $0.26 (1 m/ma)
 –  4.0 oz yogurt (Greek) = $0.325 (1 m/ma)
 –  1.0 oz cheese stick = $0.153 (1 m/ma)

An online survey of more than 440 school professionals revealed just how popular eggs are in today’s school nutrition programs. When asked how often eggs and egg products appeared on their weekly menus, 18 percent said almost every day and 56 percent said one to four times per week.

Eggs are also wonderfully adaptable at lunch/supper meals and are especially useful as a vegetarian meat alternate and in gluten-free meals. In the online survey, eggs were most commonly served in entrée salads and as part of a breakfast/brunch menu (more than 45 percent of respondents mentioned both options). Whole hard-cooked eggs alone (23%) or as a selection on a variety bar (29%) were also popular on lunch menus.

Using survey results and a series of in-depth interviews conducted with school nutrition leaders, the American Egg Board is pleased to offer six recipes for schools meals. Simple and portable – with currently favored flavors and ingredients – these recipes will be sure to please both student and adult customers. Even better, all the menu planning and nutrition analysis has already been done for you!

Breakfast Boat (K-8): Rated #2 breakfast in survey: Scrambled eggs are served on a bed of chopped redskin potatoes and shredded cheese – a tempting skillet-type breakfast. Served with a whole-grain mini bagel, peaches, apple slices and 1% milk, this makes a filling morning meal with 430 calories (10% saturated fat) and 517 milligrams of sodium.

Stuffed Pita Eggwich (K-8): Rated #3 breakfast in survey: Cheesy scrambled eggs are folded into a whole-grain mini pita, which is wrapped in foil – perfect for a grab-n-go service item. With 1 cup fruit, like a mini-tangerine and sliced strawberry cup, and 1% milk, this makes a complete breakfast with 464 calories (10% saturated fat) and 310 milligrams sodium.

Southwest Breakfast Taco (9-12): Rated #1 breakfast in survey: Mexican flavors are highly popular – this combo of scrambled eggs, black beans and cheese is wrapped in two fresh corn tortillas and served with salsa, fruit (fresh kiwi wedges and diced pears, for example) and 1% milk. As a high school breakfast, this provides 512 calories (9% saturated fat) and 452 milligrams sodium.

Two Muffin Breakfast (9-12): Perfect for a meal-to-go, this breakfast features a Cheesy Broccoli Egg Muffin and a whole-grain, reduced-fat Blueberry Muffin. Served with 100% orange juice, red grapes and 1% milk, the meal provides 477 calories (11% saturated fat) and 476 milligrams sodium.

Green Eggs and Ham Brunch-for-Lunch (K- 8): Rated #3 lunch in survey: Dr. Seuss is popular any day: Scrambled eggs with spinach, turkey ham and cheese are served with a wholegrain flatbread, sweet potato bites, salsa, a petite banana and 1% milk for 653 calories (9% saturated fat) and 1,024 milligrams sodium.

Huevos Rancheros Brunch-for-Lunch: (9 -12): Rated #2 lunch in survey: Southwestern flavors are popular for lunch too! Scrambled eggs served with a mildly spicy ranchero sauce, fresh corn tortillas, shredded cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, vegetarian refried beans, Mexican brown rice, orange wedges, raisins and 1% milk for 822 calories (7% saturated fat) and 684 milligrams sodium.



Eggs in foodservice: On trend and on the menu

If you think there are more eggs on restaurant menus these days, you are right! Eggs have been on trend in foodservice for a few years now. The Sterling-Rice Group, a food industry trend watcher, even called out 2014 as the “Year of the Yolk.9” Savvy school nutrition professionals know it’s important to offer customers options similar to those in restaurants.

Parents and staff will be especially impressed with innovative items on your menus and in your cafeteria. Egg trends to watch include:

  • Egg protein on the breakfast plate. The high-quality protein found in eggs continues to grow in popularity at breakfast. Consumers see connections between eating protein, staying fuller longer and lowering excess calories.
  • Eggs Upgrade. Eggs are now paired with other on-trend ingredients – avocados, mushrooms and flavored sausages – as well as new prep techniques like mini-frittatas. AEB’s recipes will show you how to upgrade eggs at school too!
  • Eggs Keep On (Food) Trucking. Food trucks are focusing on breakfast with items like egg sandwiches on flatbreads and meat proteins paired with eggs in wraps and tacos. These concepts will also be popular with your teen customers.
  • Eggs Go Global. Innovative egg dishes using fresh vegetables, ethnic flavors and spices are more and more popular with both chefs and home cooks. AEB's recipes offer a variety of flavor combinations to help you go global at school.
  • Eggs as Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Solutions: Eggs are a great meat alternate for vegetarian options at school breakfast and lunch. Since eggs are also gluten free, they offer an easy solution for two common specials on your menus.

These trends underscore the versatility of eggs in school nutrition programs: So many menu options, so many on-trend possibilities, so many delicious meals – from one single product, the incredible, edible egg.



Connecting cafeteria to classroom with nutrition education

School nutrition professionals are always looking for ways to connect their cafeteria to the classroom – and for nutrition education resources that they can share with teachers. The Education Station, a partnership between AEB’s Good Egg Project and Discovery Education is one way to make the connection. It provides online resources to help teach the benefits of a balanced, protein-rich breakfast, and to show how fresh foods, like eggs, make their way from farm to table. These free resources have been designed by education professionals to meet the new Common Core State Standards.

These lessons would be perfect to use during the implementation of Breakfast in the Classroom, since they reinforce the connections between nutrition, health and academics.

  • There are creative lesson plans and activities for grades K-8, as well as virtual farm to table field trips and links to recipes for families to use at home.
  • The lesson plans use the Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate model and feature of variety of topical issues, including MyPlate and farm to school.

Sources

  1. 2012 American Egg Board Advertising Tracking Study
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2012. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl. Accessed December, 19, 2013.
  3. Leidy HJ, Ortinau LC, Douglas SM, et al. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late adolescent girls. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013; 97(4):677-88.
  4. Leidy HJ, Racki EM. The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effect on acute appetite control and food intake in ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. Int J Obs. 2010; 34(7): 1125-33.
  5. Rampersaud G, et al. Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. JADA 2005; 105:743-760.
  6. Pollitt E, et al. Fasting and cognition in well- and undernourished school children: a review of three experimental studies. AJCN 1998; 67:779S-784S.
  7. Murphy JM, et al. The relationship of school breakfast to psychosocial and academic functioning: cross-sectional and longitudinal observations in an inner-city school sample. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998; 152:899-907.
  8. Hunger In Our Schools: Teachers Report 2015, Share Our Strength, Washington, DC. http://www.hungerinourschools.org/img/NKH-HungerInOurSchoolsReport-2015.pdf. Accessed June, 9, 2016.
  9. Sterling-Rice Group, 10 Cutting-Edge Dining Trends for 2014.

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