December 2014 In the News: Student Engagement, Farm-to-School Grants, and Breakfast-in-the-Classroom in 2015

chalkboard and newspaperEach 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.

Student Engagement

When we talk about increasing stakeholder engagement for school nutrition programs—be it breakfast-in-the-classroom, a school garden, or a wellness program like Fuel Up to Play 60—we talk about principals and teachers and custodians, but we’re also talking about the students. There is arguably no group of stakeholders more important than the students who eat breakfast and lunch at school!

Sometimes the trick to engaging students and increasing participation is as simple as rethinking your delivery method. At Bay Path Regional Technical High School, the number of students eating breakfast has more than doubled simply by adding a grab-and-go option to the traditional hot meal offered each morning. Once serving about 245 students per day, after grab-and-go Bay Path is now serving 525 breakfasts every morning.

Having an enthusiastic student spokesperson can also raise awareness and interest in nutrition and wellness programs. At Barre City Elementary Middle School, that student’s name is Parker Spaulding. The eighth grader loves sports and being active, and as a member of Students on the Move, Parker led the campaign to implement Fuel Up to Play 60 at his school. The combination of a motivated student leader with a motivational program like Fuel Up to Play 60 is unbeatable.

Learn more about student ownership and engagement! Watch this short video from Michigan Team Nutrition for more ideas on how to engage students in the lunchroom.

Farm to School

Increasing access to local foods in schools is the goal, and USDA is spending more than $5 million to achieve it. Last December, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced grants for 82 projects spanning 52 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands in support of USDA’s efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm-to-School program. The grants will help schools respond to the growing demand for locally-sourced foods and increased market opportunities for producers and food businesses; they will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes.

Breakfast-in-the-Classroom in 2015

As our regular readers know, Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom is moving toward a new, state-level model in order to bring BIC to high-need districts in several states. We hope you’ll stay tuned to Beyond Breakfast in 2015 to learn more about the exciting changes, as well as updates from our statewide breakfast summits and our participating schools. Make sure you like the School Nutrition Foundation on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, for all of the latest updates on school breakfast from around the country!

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