It seems simple – pack up breakfast, send it up to the classroom, the children eat breakfast together and everyone is happy!
Not so fast!
Breakfast served to students in the classroom has tremendous benefits for the child and the entire school climate. Students are focused and ready to learn, it eliminates the problems that can occur in an over crowded cafeteria and it helps to break down barriers that students have from obtaining breakfast (via home or school).
However, there are always road blocks such as, teachers who feel concerned that they are being asked to do yet another task, custodial workers worrying about the mess in the classrooms, and parents who question the nutritional integrity of breakfast foods.
Be prepared and have your facts ready!
Why Serve Breakfast in the Classroom Versus Traditional Cafeteria Style— Take a look at your breakfast program. If all the students who participated in the school lunch program needed to take advantage of the breakfast program, they wouldn’t fit in the cafeteria, nor would they have the time to consume the meal. Most lunch periods span about 2 hours. Breakfast is generally open 20 – 30 minutes prior to the start of school. Get a video camera and film your highest participating school during breakfast, showing the students waiting in a long line and capturing the noise level.
Survey All Stakeholders – Give parents, students, teachers and staff a chance to voice their concerns and offer suggestions. Be prepared with facts on nutrition of the breakfast items you will be serving, and the benefits of the program on student achievement. http://breakfastintheclassroom.org is a wonderful website with tremendous material regarding the benefits of this program.
Enlist the Expertise of Other Districts – Don’t make the same mistakes as other districts. Find out what worked and what didn’t and WHY. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel – utilize their menus, training programs, policies and procedures. Network with other School Lunch Directors to hear their stories. Visit a successful school district and ask if you can film the delivery and service of BIC. This is a great way to sell your program to other teachers and staff members.
Make Your Sales Pitch – You can’t do this by yourself! BIC is a school community effort. Develop a plan of action to include labor hours and equipment needed to pack and store breakfast items, who will deliver the full insulated totes (custodial staff or teachers’ aides), how to train students to pick up a complete breakfast, training of teachers to check off rosters, who brings the empty totes to the cafeteria and how to account for leftovers and meals served.
Advertise Your Program! – Write an article geared towards teachers for inclusion in teacher newsletters. Ask to speak at PTO meetings and bring samples of your breakfast items. Write an article for individual school newspapers. Post the breakfast menu and BIC program information on the district website. Hold contests for the kids (ie poster contest) revolving around eating breakfast at school.
Be Prepared to Address Concerns – Define for teachers how students can be self sufficient in obtaining breakfast. Remind them that breakfast can be done during morning announcements and will not cut into instructional time. Purchase the necessary garbage cans and bags to ensure an easy clean up for custodians. Part of this program is to teach the children how to care for themselves and others. Have the nutritional analysis and nutrition labeling ready for parents who question the wholesomeness of your breakfast program.
Finally, when implementing your program be available to address concerns, especially during the first week of implementation. Stop in classrooms during breakfast and solicit feedback. Then utilize that feedback to improve your program.
Read more about School Breakfast Programs and Successes HERE.