Starting the day without breakfast is unthinkable for most of us, but it is part of daily life for many young school children. Yet these children need healthy school snacks in order to stay healthy and be able to perform throughout the entire school day. With the Power Boxes campaign, the REWE Group, REWE, the Bundesverband Deutsche Tafel e.V., and local food bank organizations, plus numerous other supporters, are laying the groundwork to change this.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for young children. But almost one-third of children between the ages of 7 and 9 “sometimes,” “seldom,” or “never” have breakfast before school. This is the conclusion reached by the 2011/2012 Elephant Children's Study after surveying almost 5,000 children ranging in age from 7 to 9. A previous study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), led by the University of Bielefeld in Germany, came to the same conclusion. For this study, scientists surveyed more than 20,000 school children from almost 300 schools during the 2009/2010 school year.
Breakfast is key when it comes to maintaining concentration and focus in the classroom. That’s why we first initiated the Power Bag project in 2009. The project handed out healthy school snacks free of charge to students at selected schools. Since the project began, more than 650,000 power bags have been delivered to 40 schools. As a concept, the Power Box is simply a natural extension of the Power Bag. Selected school classes will receive daily Power Boxes over a period of two years. These will contain selected foods to be used by the students to prepare breakfast in the classroom.
Power Box promotes independence
The Power Box has two objectives: firstly, it provides children with the school snacks that are so important in ensuring success in the classroom. Secondly, they promote independence among the students: under supervision and instruction from teachers, they will learn how easy it is to prepare a well-balanced meal. The program will supply the kids with Power Boxes for two years – the optimal length of time for them to internalize what they have learned.
The boxes will be put together by a nutritionist based on nutritional recommendations for children and teenagers. She is a member of the German Association of Ecotrophologists [Verband der Oecotrophologen e. V. or VDOE] and is a certified VDOE nutrition consultant.
Support from prominent brands
The project is being supported with donations from the following companies and organizations, to name a few: Chiquita, Danone, Ehrmann, FrieslandCampina, Mondelez, Nestlé, Unilever, Zentis, and the Glocken Bäckerei and Wilhelm Brandenburg production plants, which belong to the REWE Group.
Together with the Bundesverband Deutsche Tafel e. V., we are sending an important message with the Power Box Project. It will inspire teachers and students to discuss the topic of healthy nutrition. Some schools, for example, have introduced communal breakfast breaks.
Good feedback from students, parents and teachers
“Breakfast and eating together are losing value in our fast-paced society and are frequently something we do not take the time for. Consumption and social values sometimes no longer appear to align with one another. That’s why I welcome the concept of establishing a shared breakfast with relatively simple basic foods for our roughly 130 students, which will also contribute to their education. We are sending out two important messages. The first is that healthy eating does not require a lot of time and money. Secondly, we are teaching the importance of taking time to eat and share a meal together,” explains Judith Schmischke, principal of the Förderschule Zülpicher Straße in Cologne.
“For many children today, lack of equal opportunities starts with breakfast and is a recurrent theme throughout the school day. We want each school child to receive a free and, if possible, hot lunch. But because we are not there yet, non-profit organizations like Die Tafeln (the German food banks) are stepping in to bridge the gap. The fact that they have been receiving strong support from the Power Bag Initiative from the REWE Group for four years now makes us very happy. We would like to thank all the partners that have made this possible,” adds Jochen Brühl, president of the Bundesverband Deutsche Tafel e.V.
“As a supermarket, we are not only a place to buy groceries, but also a sort of meeting place. We see many people from all income levels missing the necessities of life. We should not be fooled by full shopping carts. I was therefore very passionate about giving people, especially children, a good start to the day with the Power Box. That’s why it’s a real joy for us to pack the Power Boxes every day,” emphasizes Stephan Flock of the REWE market at Kapuzinergraben 19.
“Again and again, we see the many facets of neediness every day in our REWE markets. Stocked shelves, full shopping carts, and bursting grocery bags cannot hide the fact that many people barely have the things they need to live. We therefore see it as a point of honour to organize deliveries to the school from my market. I believe that if each one of us helps where we can, we can achieve a lot and can improve even more,” says Ralf Auen, head of the REWE market on Luxemburger Straße.