Breakfast For Everyone - First Meal Matters
The morning is a great time to fuel up for success and start the day right. Work with your school’s nutrition manager to adopt these nutritious breakfast programs. After reading over Breakfast in the Classroom, Breakfast after First Period and Grab and Go Breakfast, choose the program that works best for your school to help start eating a nutritious breakfast every day!
75% of K–8 teachers surveyed report their students regularly come to school without eating breakfast.i Alternative breakfast programs can help get more students to eat school breakfast,ii which some studies suggest can help children, particularly those who are undernourished, iii iv do better in school — and it can be done without taking away from learning.v
Whether you choose Breakfast in the Classroom, Breakfast after First Period or Grab and Go Breakfast, there are many ways to get more kids at your school eating breakfast and fueled up for success! vi vii
i Hunger in Our Schools. 2015. Share Our Strength.
ii Growing school breakfast participation. 2011. School Nutrition Association.
iii Adolphus, Katie, Clare L. Lawton, and Louise Dye. "The Effects of Breakfast on Behavior and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Frontiers Media S.A., August 8, 2013.
iv Breakfast for Learning. 2016. Food Research and Action Center. Accessed March 11, 2017.
v Making Breakfast Part of the School Day. 2016. Food Research and Action Center. Accessed March 11, 2017.
vi The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments. 2013. GENYOUth Foundation, et al.
vii School Breakfast Program Cost/Benefit Analysis. Achieving a Profitable SBP. 2007. University of Wisconsin.
Huddle up with your school dietitian and other nutrition professionals (those who work in your cafeteria) to help choose and prepare healthy breakfast menus that fit your school’s budget. Remember to include the whole team: The principal to give your plan a thumbs-up, teachers to support it, students to help with distribution to classrooms or grab-and-go stations, and custodians and/or facilities management to help create an efficient clean-up system for whichever program you choose. Be sure, also, to get information out to your school bus drivers so they know what you’re up to with morning routines!
Like any game that’s worth winning, you are bound to run into challenges. That's why the huddle is so important. You want the people on your team to understand that this is a game in which everyone wins. You’ll be more likely to achieve your goals when everyone works together.
Share this video to help explain how helpful it can be for all students to eat a nutritious school breakfast.
Students! Here are some things you can do to get things going!
- Work with your school nutrition professionals to host a one-time breakfast event in the school cafeteria. Invite parents and community members and talk to them about what you want to do. Show the video above to get people engaged and show them how it can work.
- Ask your school administrator to help you find out if other schools in your district are doing it. If so, see if you can visit and talk to the teachers and students there to find out what works and what challenges they’ve had – and how they overcame those challenges.
Pick a program. Will you try Breakfast in the Classroom, Breakfast after First Period or Grab and Go Breakfast? Each Play is different, fun and can help increase breakfast participation and consumption.
Grab and Go and Breakfast after First Period (Second Chance Breakfast): The key to making these programs a success is to pick the right location. The best places are spots where students have frequent and easy access. Once you have a location:
- Brainstorm design ideas. Choose a station design that really stands out. Maybe it’s a table with a fun sign. Or maybe you can get some helpers to build a kiosk or a cart on wheels. Does your menu plan include food that needs to be refrigerated? Factor that into your design.
- Consider how you will pack your meals. You can pre-pack in see-through containers so students know what they’re getting, or give students a bag and let them pick from choices on the station. Maybe use fun, school mascot- or team-themed containers to boost interest. (Note: Be sure if students are handling food that food-safety measures are followed carefully.)
- If students are offered choices, be sure to provide guidance on choosing foods that create a reimbursable meal. Here are some ideas on how you can do that
Breakfast in the Classroom: The key to making this program a success is to plan for a streamlined process and get teacher buy-in. This video can help your team envision what success looks like.
- Brainstorm transport options. Can you use wagons like they show in the video? Some schools use laundry baskets. One thing that’s essential is to get students to help! Rotate breakfast leaders from day to day or week to week so everyone gets involved.
- How will you keep cold cold and hot hot? Can you apply for funds to purchase insulated bags? Maybe a local food chain or sporting goods store will help. (Note: It is critical for food safety to keep food at the proper temperature. Be sure school nutrition professionals are monitoring this.)
Planning Your Menu
Work with your school nutrition professionals to choose the best menu options. The foods should be popular and nutritious. For example, nutritious breakfast bars may be a good option, but some breakfast bars are more nutritious than others. Ask the school nutrition manager for tips on what to look for on the ingredients list to help you make the better choice. Again – be sure to focus on menu planning that produces reimbursable meals!
- Try to use recyclable or reusable materials.
- Be sure to encourage students to finish what they choose for breakfast to help them get the nutrition from the nutrient-rich milk, whole grains, fruits, etc. — and to avoid food waste!
Plan a breakfast bar “tryout” so students can sample different food options and rate them to see which might be added to the regular menu. This will help get the whole school excited about the menu because all the students can help choose it! You may be able to get stores in your community involved by requesting donations to use as food samples.
Consider polling students about what they would grab on the go or eat in the classroom or simply test a few ideas to see what works.
Create flyers and posters highlighting your program and the importance of eating a nutritious breakfast.
Send information home to parents or attend a PTA/PTO meeting to explain your breakfast program. Remember to mention the cost, location, benefits and menu options so parents or family members can spread the word when they go home.
Plan your menu and set up a test run. The more work you put into choosing nutritious and delicious food options and streamlining the process, the more successful your breakfast program will be.
- Set up a series of pilot days and invite different classes or student groups to participate. Get feedback from students and teachers and use that to refine your process.
- Pay attention to what students eat and don’t eat and why. Focus on food waste to be sure that the options you are offering are eaten instead of wasted.
Work with teachers to sign up student volunteers to help at the grab and go station or transport foods to the classroom. Start small — maybe once or twice a week — and build on your successes until you are offering your breakfast program every day to all students!
Build student leadership opportunities. As much as possible, get students involved in planning and running your programs. Look into the possibility of students earning service learning hours. Consider starting a “breakfast club” wherein students build a business model for your alternative breakfast service. Put students in the driver’s seat as much as possible. They’ll learn valuable life lessons on how to plan and implement programs, and they’ll feel great about helping your school!
vi Reducing the Impact of Wasted Food by Feeding the Soil and Composting. 2016. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed March 11, 2017.
Spread the Word
Have students create posters showcasing your breakfast program and display them in high traffic areas, such as hallways and classrooms. Distribute flyers and advertise your school breakfast program during the morning announcements. Get the word out on your school’s website or blog, in your school eNewsletter (or newsletter) and on social media! Share student stories, videos and pics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tagging FUTP 60 (FB: @FuelUpToPlay60; IG and TW: @FUTP60) and using #FuelGreatness!
Involve the community. Schedule a meeting with your school's PTA or PTO and let them know what they can do to help. Provide information to them on how the program is good for their students and the school.
Think long term. In your discussions with community members and parent groups, make a list of equipment and resources that need to be maintained or replaced from year to year. See if you can get the PTA or PTO to add a budget item that helps fund those equipment needs each year.
This section has ideas on ways to involve everyone in your school and community. Think about friendly competitions, ideas on how to include students and adults or ways to bring in the family connection.
Set up some friendly competitions between classes, teachers, grades or even subject areas (e.g., the math department v. foreign languages). For this Play, see which group can get the highest level of participation within the first month. Keep track over the course of the school year and give “Breakfast Heroes” awards to the class or group that is most consistent about getting a nutritious breakfast!
- Provide input on breakfast ideas and preferences
- Choose Grab and Go locations or help create them
- Talk to local businesses and parents to get their help with food, wagons or other donations
- Provide input on various breakfast bar options
- Create posters and flyers highlighting the importance of a nutritious breakfast
- Volunteer once a week to help keep a breakfast bar stocked
Homefield Advantage provides useful, practical ways for parents and family members to get involved in making this Play a success — in school and at home! Click here for a printout that students can take home to share!
This Play may help you meet the goals of the USDA's Healthier US School Challenge!
Just getting started? Here is something you can do without jumping right into the full Play. Let this idea get you warmed up so you’re ready to tackle the full Play!
Start a grab-and-go breakfast smoothie bar. Work with your school nutrition team to create a morning smoothie bar students can stop by on their way to class. At the beginning, all it will take is a couple of blenders and some fresh dairy, fruits and vegetables. If it catches on, you’ll know it’s time to get started on more!
LONGFELLOW 45-15 CHOICE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Breakfast Taste Test Scores a Touchdown
In March 2015, our district nutrition services, building nutrition services, and Fuel Up to Play 60 student leaders had a breakfast taste test during the school lunchtime. All students had the opportunity to try new breakfast items and rate them for our nutrition services to take into consideration.Read More
Hurricane Middle School
Grab n GoRead More
Atherton Elementary School
Time to Eat!
All of our students had the opportunity to eat breakfast here at Atherton Elementary School.Read More
Funding and Outfitting Your Play
What might help?
- Smoothie machine or blender, yogurt pump, other food prep equipment
- Coolers, insulated bags, refrigerators or freezers
- Salad/food bar, breakfast cart or kiosk
- Permanent signs, menu boards/bulletin boards, posters, banners, flyers
- Reward Tracker, such as punch cards to record the number of times students eat breakfast, so they can earn prizes
- Nutrient-rich foods for taste tasting to help students select foods to add to the school menu (suggested budget of $0.60 per student)
Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60
Up to $4,000 per year is available to qualified K-12 schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60 to kick-start healthy changes!
Note: It’s a great idea to consult with your school’s nutrition team when applying for a Healthy Eating grant!