We are so thrilled to watch our participating schools as they begin serving breakfast. When you cut through the fancy lingo—deliverables, infrastructure, implementation, equipment procurement, claiming procedures—at the end of the day what we’re really talking about is feeding kids. Breakfast is going to change the world! I recently sat down and had a (phone) chat with Lilly Bouie, Director of the Child Nutrition Department in the Little Rock School District. We talked about what’s been going on in her schools as universal in-classroom breakfast has been implemented, and Lilly’s enthusiasm was clear: “We’re excited to be part of the program and to see the benefits for the children. It’s wonderful and we’re really thankful for the grant, and the partners, and to be part of the program.”
Breakfast is Served
In-classroom, universal breakfast “went live” in Little Rock at Mabelvale Elementary on April 12th, and participation in the program at that first school has increased 55%; not only that, lunch participation has also increased! I asked Lilly to tell me about what’s been going on during implementation, and to share how things are going: “We’re just excited about the level of participation. The students’ overall response is that they enjoy eating in the classroom; participation supports that statement. I think it’s the peer interaction, because it’s more a part of their school day, like “everybody is doing this”. Some teachers have selected servers for classes, and it rotates, and they get on their gloves and aprons, and it’s a part of their educational day. As for teacher reaction we’ve had no complaints thus far.”
Getting the Kids Engaged
I also talked to Lilly about how they are getting the kids engaged in the program. In addition to having the kids be a part of the serving process, the schools are providing information and incentives to get the kids excited about universal in-classroom breakfast. These include:
- Kids in pre-K to 2nd receive Good Health coloring books.
- Grades 3-5 get BIC wrist bands.
- Grades 3-5 can participate in a “Breakfast Club”: After a certain number of days of participation, students can earn prizes that encourage health and wellness, like water bottles and jump ropes.
- On the day prior to start teachers receive BIC totes w/ squeeze bottle, coloring books, wrist bands, and an explanation of the counting and claiming procedures (see below).
- On the day prior to start teachers receive Marketing Tool Kits, plus a demonstration of required meal counts (through NEA Toolkits).
- Each school receives a collection of banners announcing the breakfast program so the kids know that it’s available.
- On the day after the 1st opening a big kick-off celebration is held which includes sample bags for guests, and attendees are invited to see a demo in-classroom (delivery, student distribution of meals, counting & claiming procedures).
Counting and Claiming
I also asked Lilly about the counting and claiming process, and she explained, “An automated system—a laser gun—is used for identification. Each kid has an individual bar code. Master rosters are printed for each homeroom (listing name/grade/barcode), and over the bar code it has a space for day of the week; the teacher checks the box if the student takes the meal, puts an “A” in blank for an absence, and leaves it blank to indicate refusal. The laser sends the information back to the cafeteria for upload into software. A daily accountability sheet (a green sheet the size of sticky note) is used for tracking, and lists: name of teacher, number of kids, number of adults, total meals served. Teachers place notepad & roster outside door for collection.”
The menu for universal in-classroom breakfast includes both hot & cold items. The startup menu for each site begins with only cold food, and in the second week the schools move into serving hot items. According to Lilly the reason for this is “to be sure to get meals to rooms in a timely manner.”
You can see a copy of the Little Rock district’s start-up menu here and their Breakfast in the Classroom menu here. For more information on the Little Rock program, and to see an interview with Lilly Bouie, click through to view a report from KTHV.com: Breakfast in the Classroom program feeding students in LRSD.
Photos courtesy Little Rock Education Assocation. To see more photos visit the LREA on Facebook.