Breakfast – Anytime, Anywhere
The morning is the perfect time to fuel up for success and start the day right. Work with your school’s dietitian or 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 and start eating a nutritious breakfast every day!
Nearly 75% of teachers surveyed report that their students regularly come to school hungry.i Alternative breakfast programs are proven ways to help get more students to eat school breakfast,ii which can help them to better in schooliii iv — 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 increase breakfast participation and consumption.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., 8 Aug, 2013.
iv Breakfast for Learning. 2009. Food Research and Action Center.
v Instructional time and breakfast in the classroom fact sheet. 2010. Food Research and Action Center.
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 food preparation and distribution to classrooms or grab-and-go stations, and custodians to help create an efficient clean-up system for whichever program you choose.
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 why it’s important for all students to eat a nutritious school breakfast.
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 proven to increase breakfast participation and consumption.
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.
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 get insulated bags? Maybe a local food chain or sporting goods store will help.
Planning Your Menu
Work with your school dietitians and other 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 dietitian which ingredients to look for.
- Try to use recyclable or reusable materials.
- Be sure to encourage students to finish what they choose for breakfast — drink that milk! All of it!
- Think about meals that come from sustainable resources.
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 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 healthful, popular 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.
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!
Spread the Word
Have students create posters telling students about your breakfast program and display them in areas that everyone is sure to notice, like 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!
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.
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 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!
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 into school. 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
LONGFELLOW 45-15 CHOICE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Longfellow Shows More Pics
This is a continuation of pictures. Our district used this event to make a video for the district for National Breakfast month.Read More
MANATEE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Manatee Morning Mile/Snack Pack ProgramRead 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!