Breakfast in the Classroom Media Event in Denver Public Schools, CO: Ellis Elementary School

A guest post by School Nutrition Foundation Senior Program Manager, Paula Zdanowicz, MPH

On December 11, 2012 SNF joined Denver Public Schools (CO) for the eighth PBIC media event celebrating Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC). We gathered at Ellis Elementary School with fellow hunger, nutrition and education advocates to highlight how BIC has been benefiting Denver’s students.

Ellis Elementary is one of nineteen schools funded through the PBIC grant and has been serving BIC since August.The great news is that at the end of November, an additional 4,386 students are eating breakfast in Denver Public Schools (DPS) as a result of this program. This is a 20 percent increase from last year’s breakfast participation numbers. Our PBIC media events continue to showcase the successful collaboration among local stakeholders; the key to successful implementation of BIC. DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, and Theresa Hafner, Executive Director of Nutrition Services at DPS were just some of the partners who came together to celebrate BIC’s positive impact in the district.

Each district has made the PBIC media event a unique celebration of breakfast in the classroom (look for past media event coverage in our blog archives). The Ellis Elementary breakfast mascot, Mrs. McCluck, along with the student leadership team was eager to show us how breakfast happens every morning.

Mrs. McCluck led us to the school cafeteria where she introduced us to Denise Pruitt, Cafeteria Manager, and her staff who were busy packing separate coolers for hot and cold items. They have cut morning prep time by prepacking shelf-stable items in plastic containers the day before.

It is always nice to hear about the benefits of breakfast in the classroom by the testimonials from school staff.  Denise weighed in on what a difference she has seen in breakfast participation since BIC implementation. Before BIC, students came through the cafeteria line, took their breakfast and then met up with their friends instead of eating the meal.  Now, breakfast is a meal to be shared together in the classroom at the beginning of the school day.

Mrs. McCluck led us out of the cafeteria, showing us how cafeteria staff take carts with breakfasts and deliver them to the classrooms.

On the menu that day:

The students had a choice between a Sunshine egg biscuit (whole grain biscuit, egg, and cheese) or granola bar with fresh orange slices, and juice or skim/1% white milk.

Mrs. McCluck proudly showed us how organized serving breakfast is in the classroom. Each student is called to the front of the classroom to choose his or her breakfast.  As the students wait to be called, they take that time to get ready for the day by pulling out homework assignments or read; there is quiet laughter and smiles all around.

With a building full of visitors, there was already a lot of excitement in the halls.  However, one lucky classroom had two special visitors join them for breakfast:  Superintendent Boasberg and Mayor Hancock. Mayor Hancock shared that he understands firsthand what it is like to come to school without having the opportunity to eat a breakfast. The students giggled as he shared with them a story about how tired he became throughout the day after skipping breakfast one morning. He also shared his support of BIC because he believes that students should start the day right by eating a nutritious breakfast that will allow them to hit the ground running.

After the students gave breakfast two thumbs up, the waste bag was placed outside of the classroom door for pick-up by custodial staff and the school day began. Fifteen minutes was all it took for breakfast to be served, yet the benefits last throughout the day.

Our tour came to an end, but before Mrs. McCluck bid us farewell, Theresa Hafner reiterated that with a little collaboration, together we can prepare our school children for a day of success by providing them a nutritious breakfast served in the classroom.

Thanks to all of the local and national partners who have been such strong advocates:

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