Do you guys remember how excited and energized I was about Breakfast in the Classroom after returning from the Legislative Action Conference in March? So! Many! Exclamation Points! Excited! Well get ready for more, because I’m fresh off of my trip to Little Rock, Arkansas where I attended a media event for Breakfast in the Classroom at the Mabelvale Elementary School. The only word to describe this visit is inspiring. Seeing the universal in-classroom breakfast process up-close and talking to the kids really changed the way I think about, read about, and going forward write about school breakfast. The effects of a good breakfast in the morning are real; they are measurable and observable and most importantly, breakfast makes a difference. I know because I heard it first-hand from teachers, from principals, from Lilly, and from the kids themselves.
The media event was a huge success, with print, radio and television outlets covering the morning activities. In addition, there was no shortage of wonderful speakers and attendees, representing the full spectrum of support that the Breakfast in the Classroom project has enjoyed:
- Lilly Bouie, Little Rock School District Food Service Director
- Mabelvale Elementary School Principal Darian Smith
- Little Rock School Superintendent, Dr. Morris Holmes
- First lady of Arkansas, Ginger Beebe
- Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola
- NEA-HIN Executive Director Jerry Newberry
- Little Rock Education Association President Cathy Kohler
- Walmart Foundation Senior Manager Julie Gerhrki
- Becky Smith, Mabelvale Teacher
Before the media event began we were invited to observe breakfast being distributed and eaten in the classroom. I was immediately impressed with the organized system and the relaxed classroom atmosphere; no food fights, no yelling or screaming or running, no chaos to be found. Some teachers took the time to go over the day’s lesson plans, while others instructed mini-lessons while the children ate. At the end of the 10-minute breakfast period, trash was collected and put outside the classroom doors for pick-up, along with the soft-sided delivery coolers.
It’s difficult for me to adequately describe what it’s like to have a child who would otherwise not eat breakfast tell you what a difference it makes in their life. I was able to chat with several Mabelvale students throughout the course of the morning and they each had different reasons for not having access to breakfast but the results they reported to me were remarkably similar: more energy, better concentration, fewer headaches, bonding time with classmates and friends, and the most simple and powerful of all—no hunger. The kids at Mabelvale were well-behaved, outgoing, articulate, and polite—I can’t remember the last time I heard so many “pleases” and “thank-yous,” even from adults!—and they charmed me in a few short hours.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog series, where we’ll take a peek at the behind-the-scenes action at Mabelvale’s Breakfast in the Classroom, and give a big SHOUT-OUT to the kitchen and custodial staff who make it happen every day. We’ll also bring you some incredible video from the Breakfast in the Classroom event–get your dancing shoes ready!