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 on ways to have a nutritious breakfast – with your friends and classmates! 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 make a nutritious breakfast part of every student’s day!
In a recent survey, 75% of K–8 teachers reported their students regularly come to school hungry because they are not getting enough to eat at home.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. 2017. Share Our Strength. Accessed February 10, 2018.
ii Growing school breakfast participation. 2011. School Nutrition Association. Accessed January 20, 2018.
iii Adolphus, K., Lawton, C.L., & Dye, L., "The Effects of Breakfast on Behavior and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Frontiers Media S.A., August 8, 2013.
ivBreakfast for Learning. 2016. Food Research and Action Center. Accessed January 20, 2018.
vMaking Breakfast Part of the School Day. 2016. Food Research and Action Center. Accessed January 20, 2018.
viThe Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments. 2013. GENYOUth Foundation et al. Accessed January 20, 2018.
viiSchool Breakfast Program Cost/Benefit Analysis. Achieving a Profitable SBP. 2007. University of Wisconsin. Accessed January 20, 2018.
Huddle up with your school nutrition professionals (those who work in your cafeteria and possibly your district dietitian) 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 to staff grab-and-go stations, and custodians or facilities management to help create an efficient clean-up system for whichever program you choose. Be sure to get information out to your school bus drivers so they know what you’re up to and can help encourage student participation.
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 this is a game in which everyone wins. You’ll be more likely to achieve your goals when everyone works together.
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Credit: Connecticut Breakfast Expansion
Team and Connecticut Dairy
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 students, 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 running school breakfast programs. If so, see if you can visit and talk to the district director for school nutrition to learn about what works and what challenges other schools have had — and how they overcame those challenges.
- Be a leader. Form your own group of student leaders. Include your Fuel Up to Play 60 team and other classmates who want to make a nutritious change to the school’s morning routine. Share experiences, use social media and regular in-person meetings, and recruit new students to join your efforts. You can make new friends in the process!
Pick a program.Will you try Breakfast in the Classroom, Breakfast after First Period or Grab and Go Breakfast? Each Play is different and fun and can help increase breakfast participation and consumption.
Credit: The Dairy Alliance and School District of Charlotte, NC
- Grab and Go and Breakfast after First Period (Second Chance Breakfast)
One 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 — where they want to get together to talk, eat, and start the day off right.
When you have determined a location:
- Brainstorm design ideas. Consider holding a contest to get other kids excited! Choose a station design that really stands out. Maybe it’s a table with cool signs. Or maybe you can work with friends and new teammates 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 meals. You can pre-package 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. Try using fun, school-mascot or team-themed containers to boost interest. (Note: Be sure if students are handling food that your school nutrition personnel are ensuring all food-safety measures are followed carefully.)
- If students are offered choices, be sure to provide guidance on choosing foods that create a reimbursable meal.
- 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 will show you an example of what success looks like.
- Brainstorm food 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 your peers to help! Rotate breakfast leaders from day to day or week to week so everyone gets involved.
- How will you keep cold food cold and hot food hot? Consider applying for funds to purchase insulated bags. Maybe a local grocery 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.)
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Credit: California Food Policy Advocates
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 best choice. Again, be sure to focus on menu planning that produces reimbursable meals!
Here are some great resources from the National Dairy Council:
- 12 New Recipes Brochure
- School Recipe Cards:
And some to take home: Home Recipe Cards
One great option to consider is to include smoothies (or other dairy-based beverages) — you can blend in dairy (low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt), fruits and vegetables, and even whole grains. Check out these great recipes from National Dairy Council. You can also use these large-quantity smoothie recipes from the USDA and consider applying for funds to purchase commercial smoothie machines to make them easily.
Another option, especially on cold mornings, is to offer hot low-fat or fat-free chocolate milk. The Washington Dairy Council noted breakfast participation jumped dramatically in five middle schools that piloted breakfast with this warm, nutritious addition. Consider adding it to your menu and applying for funding for equipment you might need.
- Use recyclable or reusable materials.
- Encourage students to finish what they choose for breakfast to help them get the nutrition from the nutrient-rich milk, whole grains, fruits and so on — and to avoid food waste!
- Grab and Go and Breakfast after First Period (Second Chance Breakfast)
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! Work with your school nutrition director to see how protein options can be included on the bar, like yogurt, hard-boiled eggs and cheese. You may be able to get grocery stores in your community involved by asking them to donate food samples. Be sure to invite your donors to come try out the breakfast bar, too!
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. Pay attention, too, to the kids who are or are not eating together. Try to get new groups together to create a friendly, inclusive vibe. It will get everyone’s day off to a great start!
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 and 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 thrown away.
Work with teachers to sign up student volunteers to help staff 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, have students do the planning and run 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!
Spread the Word
Have students create posters showcasing your breakfast program and display them in high-traffic areas, such as hallways, cafeterias, and classrooms. Distribute flyers and promote your school breakfast program during the morning announcements. Get the word out on your school’s website or blog, in your school newsletter and on social media! Share student stories, videos and pics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tagging FUTP 60 (FB: @FuelUpToPlay60; TW and IG: @FUTP60) and using #FuelGreatness!
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Credit: USDA Food and Nutrition Services
Be a leader. Do you ever look around at breakfast or lunch time and see kids who are eating alone? How do you think they feel? How would you feel? As you develop your breakfast plans, think about how you can get these peers more involved. Be there when they need you! Consider starting something like the We Dine Together club students in Florida and now across the country are joining. Help everyone start the day off happy. Note that We Dine Together was started as a lunch time program, but it can also work with Grab and Go or Second Chance Breakfast.
Involve the community. Attend a PTA or PTO meeting at your school and let members know what they can do to help. Provide information to them on how the program is good for 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. Work to get the PTA or PTO to add a budget item that helps fund those equipment needs each year.
This section features 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 vs. foreign languages). For this Play, see which group can get the highest level of participation in 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 the breakfast bar stocked.
- Work with new volunteers to make sure this Play is repeated from year to year. Breakfast for all can help build community and help students succeed.
Help Build the Whole Fuel Up to Play 60 Community
Encourage students to log on to their Dashboard and report activity to achieve Level Three (30,000 Points) and be named a Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassador! Having ambassadors at your school might help get more students involved!
Homefield Advantage: Check out this resource and share it with parents so they can see what they can do to help at home and at school.
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
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Hurricane Middle School
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Central Montcalm Upper Elem.
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Teachers reporting that students were coming to the classroom hungry led the student Hornet Team to make Breakfast for Everyone this year’s Healthy Eating goalRead More
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Madisonville Junior High School
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Funding and Outfitting Your PlayApply for Funding
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!
If you haven't already, check to see if your school qualifies for the Community Eligibility option, which allow schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to ALL students rather than just those who will fill out school meal applications. It's working in thousands of schools across the country!
Note: It's a great idea to consult with your school's nutrition team when applying for a Healthy Eating grant! Many state and regional dairy councils require it.