Superintendent Supports Breakfast in the Classroom

Healthy Food Choices in Schools March 10, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

Bill Fetterhoff, Superintendent, Godwin Heights Public Schools, Wyoming, MI

breakfast in classroomBill Fetterhoff, superintendent of Godwin Heights Public Schools, believes proper nutrition can help level the playing field for students who have fewer opportunities and advantages.   Almost 90 percent of Godwin Heights’ students are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.  “In our district, high-quality, nutritious food is scarce for many families,” he explains. “When students eat at school, our meals can help bridge that gap.”

All buildings in the Godwin Heights district offer universal free breakfast and, in four of the buildings, breakfast is served in the classrooms.  Fetterhoff says, “We have an issue with students getting to school on time. When they arrive late, they won’t take the time to go to the cafeteria for breakfast so they skip it.  Since we moved breakfast into the classrooms, 75 percent of our students eat breakfast at school."

The teachers in Godwin Heights saw that students’ basic needs were not being met. They were arriving hungry, which led to distractions and behavior problems.  Now, students can eat breakfast in the classroom while engaging in daily learning activities so no instruction time is lost. “We had to work at it,” Fetterhoff said. “Breakfast in the classroom was a big transition for us, but our staff stayed on board because we knew it was right for the students. Now, instead of struggling through the morning because they are hungry, students eat as soon as they get to school – and learn at the same time.”  According to Fetterhoff, breakfast in the classroom leads to students learning and practicing valuable life skills: the students are custodians of their own environment and are responsible for keeping their classrooms clean. 

Another perk of breakfast in the classroom is that many foods served are nutritious, non-perishable items that, if not eaten immediately, can be taken home by students and consumed as part of a meal or snack.  “Food security is an issue in our community, so this is another way for us to serve students and their families beyond academics,” Fetterhoff says.

Breakfast in the classroom required some extra organization to get things going, according to Fetterhoff, but that upfront work was well worth the payoff. “We look at improving the health and well-being of our students and their families as a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.  “We’re investing for a lifetime.” 

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

Bill Fetterhoff, Superintendent, Godwin Heights Public Schools, Wyoming, MI


 

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