“B” is for brain food…and bagels


Contributing Writer

     Can eating a bagel, particularly a “brainy” one, make your school day better?

     Some local teachers and students think so. They are snacking on bagels made by Natural Ovens of Manitowoc, a company that last year donated $90,000 worth of its mineral-rich, high-fiber, low-fat products to some 40 schools, most in Wisconsin.

     At one Milwaukee elementary school, Humboldt Park School, 3230 S. Adams Ave., pupils in Carol Sherman’s third-grade class enjoyed morning and afternoon snacks of Brainy Bagels and a pineapple juice mixed with Natural Ovens’ high-energy drink mix. The students also avoided the junk foods that nutritionists believe lead to mood swings and restlessness.

     The result, according to Sherman, was a classroom relatively free of stress, aggression, lethargy and other stumbling blocks to learning.

     “The students are healthier, and they look forward to coming to school,” said Sherman.

     After weeks of nutritious snacking, the students performed remarkably well on a memory test administered by a Humboldt Park staffer, said Sherman.

     Sherman’s class saw another indication of the power of Brainy Bagels on “junk food day,” when pupils abstained from their new diets and instead reverted to the usual soft drinks, potato chips, cupcakes and whatnot. Stomach aches, nervousness and lethargy were the results, said their teacher.

     Sherman, along with another third-grade teacher at Humboldt Park School, Kathy Dreist, led their pupils on a field trip to Natural Ovens, and the two educators attended a weekend seminar at the Manitowoc bakery to learn the basics of nutrition from owners Paul and Barb Stitt.

     Paul Stitt, the holder of a master’s degree in biochemistry, blames poor nutrition for the lackluster performance of American school children in reading and writing skills.

     “The basic reason Johnny can’t write is that the brain is lacking nutrients, like an engine that doesn’t have fuel,” said Stitt.

     According to Stitt, some 150 schools — 40 of them Milwaukee County Public Schools — are interested in serving their students Brainy Bagels this year, but he is uncertain how all the schools will be included in the program. Last year’s giveaways consumed one-third of the profits of Natural Ovens, which grosses about $10 million annually, said Stitt.

The Business Journal, Milwaukee, 10/7/95