Grab and Go – Anytime!
Set up quick and easy meals that students can grab on their way into school or between morning classes for breakfast, to speed up the cafeteria lines during lunch, or after school for a pre-game pick-me-up or a take-home nutrient-rich meal.
How Does It Work?
Grab and Go Breakfast is a cost-effective way to increase breakfast participation and consumption. This is important because, according to one study, more than 60% of students do not eat breakfast each day, and according to an annual report by Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign, nearly 75% of teachers surveyed have students who regularly come to school hungry.
But Grab and Go isn't just for breakfast anymore. Grab and Go Lunch can be a great way to help students enjoy a healthy lunch when time is short.
- The Wellness Impact: Executive Summary. 2013. GenYouth Foundation.
- Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States 2013. 2014. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Hunger in Our Schools. 2013. Share Our Strength.
- The Relationship Between the Length of the Lunch Period and Nutrient Consumption in the Elementary School Lunch Setting. 2004. Journal of Child Nutrition & Management.
This Play may help you meet the goals of the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge!
Huddle up with school nutrition professionals (those who work in your cafeteria) and the school nurse to discuss your proposed changes/additions, help with food choices and preparation and come up with a plan; the principal to give your plan a thumbs up; parents to get their support and help; and students to help with food choices and how to serve up breakfast, lunch or after-school meals.
Pick a location.
- For breakfast and after-school meals: Consider locations where students tend to meet in the morning or after school, such as the front hall, outside the library or gym, outside (or inside) the front doors or near the bus loop.
- For lunch: Think about the current cafeteria line flow. Where is the best location to station your Grab and Go options? Can your cafeteria create a separate "express" line for Grab and Go?
Plan your menu.
- Ask for help from your school health advisor or school wellness committee, if you have one. Consider inviting representatives from a local culinary school to participate.
- Work with your school nutrition professionals to create a menu of delicious and nutrient-rich breakfast, lunch or supper options. Offer convenient, packaged and easy-to-grab foods that include low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Consider polling students about what they would grab on the go, or simply test a few ideas to see what works.
- Think about the foods that are already offered for breakfast, lunch and a la carte and look for ways to package them in grab and go fashion. For example, are there already containers used for meal distribution? Does the cafeteria have wax wrapping papers or foil already? Work with your school nutrition professionals and Program Advisor for ideas that won't increase costs.
- Brainstorm with team members about design ideas for your Grab and Go station. Is it a table? A kiosk? A cart on wheels? A refrigerated station?
- Recruit a local grocery store, farm or restaurant that may be willing to provide donations of foods, equipment or funding. Consider packing your meals in colorful, fun, school mascot- or team-themed containers to boost interest, if feasible based on funding/donations available. Think about "going green"! Try to use recyclable or reusable containers. Include a "what's inside" note highlighting the nutrition in your meals.
- Get your school sports teams behind your Grab and Go plan. Consider asking the various teams to volunteer some time to run Grab and Go stations. You could give vouchers to teams that volunteer their time.
Spread the Word
Create posters to put up in high-traffic areas (such as hallways and classrooms), distribute flyers in classrooms and advertise your program during morning announcements. Get the word out on your school's website, blog or in your school's eNewsletter! Market your Grab and Go station to the entire school with a ribbon-cutting ceremony!
Get Others Involved
Everyone can help
- Provide school nutrition professionals with input on Grab and Go menu items
- Choose Grab and Go locations
- Promote the program
- Talk to local businesses to get their help with food or other donations
Involve the community: Schedule a meeting with your school's parent organization and let them know what they can do to help. See our Homefield Advantage tips for ideas to involve parents or caregivers at school and at home.
Did You Know?
An estimated 14.5 percent of American households, for at least some time during 2012, did not have enough food for all their members to be active and healthy. This Play can help all of your school's students eat right so they're not hungry and are ready to learn.