Building Healthy Bodies with Outdoor School Breakfast

Healthy Food Choices in Schools February 03, 2017 Print Friendly and PDF
outdoor breakfast
Grab and Go Outdoor Breakfast, Lecanto Primary School, Citrus County, Florida 

Lecanto Primary school in Citrus County Florida is in its third year of implementing an outside breakfast program called Grab and Go breakfast made possible by Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) grant funding. The program offers a way for students to grab their breakfast and enjoy it in the courtyard with their friends before the school day starts. Due to the warm climate in Florida this allows for a great option year-round. On rainy days students, must eat in the cafeteria.

At Lecanto Primary the cafeteria is on the opposite side of the school campus from the 4th and 5th grade wing.  As a result, a very limited number of these students ate breakfast at school.  Prior to applying for the grant the students were surveyed to see if they would participate in breakfast if a breakfast cart was introduced in the courtyard. Students were also asked the type of items they would like served on the cart. 

The students were very interested in the Grab and Go breakfast and were ready to participate. In the first year with Fuel Up to Play 60 funds, necessary equipment was purchased to feed students at an outdoor location (cart, serving station, point of sale, FUTP 60 tablecloths). The PTO purchased wood picnic tables.  During that year, breakfast participation doubled. In light of this success, the District Food Service department paid for a cement slab and an overhang where students could pick up breakfast and enter their number into the point of sale.  

The Lecanto Primary FUTP60 student team, who lead health and wellness initiatives during the school year, created morning announcements, posters and a short video for Lecanto Primary's website to promote the new program. Those forms of communication are continuing to be dispersed, complemented by nutrition education messages and health benefits of the breakfast items being served.  

During the second year, the breakfast program was expanded to include more taste test days.  FUTP60 student leaders made smoothies with a smoothie bicycle purchased with FUTP60 funds. The bike allows students to create different smoothie combinations with dairy and petal to blend. This creates excitement and allows students to sample smoothies with their breakfast.  Additionally, the FUTP60 team enjoyed trying out their cooking skills making healthy muffins and snacks to serve along with the school’s breakfast. District Food Services also purchased high-top tables where students could stand while they ate and expanded the paved patio. 

During the third year of the grant, District Food Services purchased picnic-style metal  tables that matched the high-top tables that were purchased the previous year.  The district purchased permanent outdoor trash cans. Comparing the 2015-2016 school year to the 2014-2015 school year, breakfast participation increased by 6%. Dairy sales skyrocketed with a 55% increase in milk sales, a 43% increase in single serve yogurt, and a 15% increase in bulk yogurt sales.

The FUTP60 funding was key in making these positive changes to the school breakfast environment. Students are making time for the most important meal of the day and enjoying it! Participation has become consistent and the students enjoy spending time it the courtyard with their peers in the morning. 


Contributor

Lori Nelson MS, RD, LD/N, Nutrition Manager, Dairy Council of Florida


 

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