Principal Connects with Students and Champions School Breakfast

Healthy Food Choices in Schools March 09, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

William Stitt, Ed.D., Principal, Baseline Middle School, South Haven, MI

 

If you want to catch up with the principal of Baseline Middle School, it’s easy to find him.  He’s in the main hallway of the school every morning at 7 a.m., welcoming students and encouraging them to eat a nutritious school breakfast.

Making school breakfast work at Baseline is a team effort.  The school science and health teacher, Cheri Stein, teaches students the importance of choosing and eating healthy meals and snacks, including breakfast. The foodservice director, Amy Nichols, and her staff set up an eye-catching grab-and-go station that greets students as soon as they enter the building. Breakfast is hard to pass up at Baseline!  After students “grab” breakfast, they go to breakfast-friendly classrooms, where teachers have indicated that students are welcome to eat in their rooms. Principal Stitt allows teachers to choose whether or not students can eat breakfast in their classrooms. Most allow it, but some do not.  Stitt believes part of their success comes from giving teachers a choice.

Initially, some teachers at Baseline had concerns about breakfast in the classroom being too messy, too time-consuming, and too disruptive; however, that proved not to be the case.  The teachers report that things are going smoothly, and Steve Brzezinski, lead custodian, says the grab-and-go-style breakfast is easier to clean up than the traditional school breakfast, formerly offered in the school cafeteria.  He says grab and go makes his job easier and that he now spends most of his time emptying trash cans.

On an average day, 175 of Baseline’s 400 middle school students eat school breakfast from the grab-and-go station. The attractive and efficient grab-and-go set up, the positive and supportive attitude of school staff, and the principal’s daily presence and encouragement: “Don’t forget to eat breakfast!” contribute to Baseline’s breakfast success. 

Principal Stitt wholeheartedly believes in school breakfast. He explains, “I believe you have to meet students’ basic needs first and food is a basic need many people take for granted. Not every student has food at home. Without food, children can’t learn, behave their best, improve their grades, or adjust socially. Offering breakfast at school is a necessity and a priority.”

This story is part of a School Breakfast Success Story Compendium by Michigan Team Nutrition. To read more success stories, click here! 


Contributors

Nicholas Drzal, RD, MPH, Michigan Department of Education

Chris Flood, MS; Nutrition Communications Consultant, Healthy Habits Today

William Stitt, Ed.D., Principal, Baseline Middle School, South Haven, MI


 

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.