Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Leigh D’Amico


In this action research, I seek to show the connection between breakfast consumption and student academic achievement. Students skip breakfast for a variety of reasons, including not allowing enough time and not having enough resources for it. Others eat what they can obtain, including snack foods that are highly processed. In addition, school districts have gotten away from making their meals from scratch, and instead, use a third-party catering service that often serves food that is cheap and easy to heat up, which often means it is highly processed and does not have the same nutritional content as whole foods. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows how obtaining food is a basic need, but nowhere does it claim that the food needs to be nutritious. The researcher of this study explores how districts that serve whole foods and made-from-scratch meals affect student academic achievement as well as how breakfast consumption of grade 12 students in morning English Language Arts (ELA) classes affects their academic achievement.

Many people have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but does it matter what a person eats? I surveyed, interviewed, and observed 20 grade 12 students to determine if what they eat for breakfast has an impact on their academic achievement in ELA class. Studies have shown that many factors affect a student’s academic achievement, including eating meals with his or her immediate family as well as the student’s mental health and what intrinsic and extrinsic factors help to motivate him or her (Utter et al., 2016, 2019; Deci, 1071; Gagné and Deci, 2005; Morris and Zental, 2014). Generally, students tended to be better motivated and had better grades and attention in class if they ate something for breakfast. Further study needs to be conducted to determine if what a teenager consumes for breakfast makes a difference in that person’s attention in class as well as in that person’s academic achievement. If schools can provide whole foods that are processed as little as possible, not only will there be less wasted, but students will have the fuel for their brains and bodies to tackle the academics they need to grow into productive members of society.