Each month, our staff reads hundreds of media reports on the subject of school nutrition. We curate our favorites in a monthly blog post we call, “In the News.” Highlighting positive stories about the great things going on in school cafeterias helps us in many ways: providing inspiration, connecting school nutrition professionals from across the country, and promoting those programs and individuals who are taking the extra step to make their school nutrition program the very best it can be.
Breakfast-in-the-Classroom Growing in Popularity
It’s been a very busy few months for us here at the School Nutrition Foundation, as well as for the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. From the Legislative Action Conference to National School Breakfast Week to SNF’s Celebration of Heroes and National Nutrition Month, we’ve hardly had time to share some of our favorite breakfast-in-the-classroom stories—and there have been plenty!
Back in February, FRAC released their yearly School Breakfast Scorecard, which provides a look at national and state data for breakfast participation. The results for the 2013-14 school year show an average of 11.2 million low-income children ate breakfast at school each day—an increase of 320,000 from SY 2012-13. FRAC President Jim Weill cites breakfast-in-the-classroom specifically as one strategy that can help increase breakfast participation; Community Eligibility Provision expansion is another. Thirty schools in Vermont adopted CEP in SY 2014-15, which resulted in 7000 students receiving free breakfast and lunch every day. In Colorado the numbers also increased, adding 8000 students from the previous school year. Denver Public Schools was one of our participating districts for SY 2013, so we were particularly excited to see school breakfast growing statewide in Colorado.
Administrators Lead the Charge for BIC
When it comes to breakfast-in-the-classroom success, directors and managers cite principal and administrative support as crucial time and time again. That’s why we couldn’t help but notice this story about Frankly County superintendents and school principals who—at the urging of Massachusetts State Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester—are exploring the idea of offering breakfast-in-the-classroom. Serving breakfast in the classroom means that time can be counted toward the structured learning time requirement, while also ensuring kids have access to a nutritious morning meal. Supporters also cite other benefits, like the family atmosphere fostered by sharing a morning meal with classmates, and the opportunity to use that time creatively for the benefit of the class. Those sentiments are echoed in a similar piece about breakfast-in-the-classroom in Daranelle, Arkansas, which quotes Board of Education President Jerry Don Woods on his support of the program: “If we can’t feed our kids, you can’t expect them to learn. We are doing a better job of feeding our kids, and I believe there’s a connection between what’s going on in the cafeteria and what’s taking place in the classroom.”
Fuel Up to Play 60
Longtime readers know how much we love Fuel Up to Play 60! Pairing solid nutrition information with fun physical challenges is the best way to instill healthy habits in the long term, so we love it when our favorite topic—school breakfast—goes hand-in-hand with fitness. Students at Granville Middle School in Ohio wrote a FUTP60 grant for $3800 that will help them provide nutritious breakfast foods for their peers while also increasing the opportunities for students’ physical activity. The students, along with lunch program Chef Jon Harbaugh and their faculty advisor, are pricing smoothie machines that would help increase fruit consumption and breakfast participation.
Fuel Up to Play 60 also inspires young people to leadership—yet another aspect of the program that we admire. Emma Buchanan of Patrick Henry High in Virginia is one such example; Buchanan is in the running for a national service award as a result of her work as a national spokesperson for FUTP60 and advocate for healthy eating and exercise.