Guilford County School District (NC), Breakfast in the Classroom Visits

We recently drove down to Guilford County, NC to check in with our PBIC school sites.  Together with food service director Jim Faggione, we visited Sedgefield Elementary School, Welborn Middle School, Parkview Elementary School and Smith High School.

Parkview Elementary – coffee house chill in the AM

The first thing we noticed at Parkview was the overwhelming sense of calm as students arrived at school. The cafeteria is located right by the bus drop off.  Before BIC, the cafeteria was where everyone gathered.  It was often an environment that didn’t lend itself to a peaceful start of the school day.  Now students head to the classroom, where breakfast is waiting.  They start the day reading and eating. One teacher we visited has created a coffee house environment for her students; complete with dimmed lights and soft music.  The vibe was definitely “chill”.  When asked about how easy it was to implement BIC at the beginning of the school year, a group of teachers we spoke to said it was not a problem at all.  They commented that everything had been well thought out from the start and students picked up the routine immediately. A quiet and focused start to the day is now the norm at Parkview.

Welborn Middle School– making it work with two delivery methods in one hallway

This middle school is leading a double life and loving it.  We talk a lot about giving schools the freedom and flexibility to find delivery methods that work for individual sites.  Hilda Rycroft, cafeteria manager and her staff noticed that hallways were backing up when using just the kiosks to distribute breakfast in the morning.  To keep things moving, they divided and conquered.  On one side of the hallway, breakfast is delivered via coolers and students pick up meals in the classroom.  Rosters are included and teachers mark off those who take breakfast.  Students in the classrooms on the other side of the hallway stop by the kiosk, pick up breakfast, enter their pin and the meal is verified via tablet by cafeteria staff.

There is no backup and students can quickly grab and go to class.  The tablet technology and portable pin pad make counting the meals simple and easy.  The good looking breakfast carts fit in the elevator of the two story school and set up very quickly for students to come through.  The system works really well and gives the cafeteria staff the opportunity to interact with the students in the morning.

At the end of service when the kiosks and coolers come back to the cafeteria, the students in the life skills class are working with their teacher to help count the returned items.  These students play a vital role in the program and provide Hilda and her staff with extra help as they work to
prepare lunch – a win-win for everyone.

Sedgefield Elementary:  Good morning, G-O-O-D  M-O-R-N-I-N-G, good morning!

Every morning ten student ambassadors eagerly come off the bus and make their way to the school cafeteria where they are warmly greeted by Angela Brown, Cafeteria Manager, and her staff. Sedgefield Elementary makes breakfast a success by using these student ambassadors to deliver breakfast to the classrooms.

We followed one special first grader on her delivery route to a pre-kindergarten classroom where we were greeted by the students as they sang a good morning cheer. The entire breakfast process was organized; from delivery to breakfast distribution we saw firsthand how breakfast truly is a group effort. As Joyce Joyner, Area Supervisor said “It is a school project that brings everyone (teachers, foodservice, students, and custodial staff) together in collaboration”. As the students ate and worked on short assignments, we had a chance to speak with Angela and Joyce who agreed that although there might have been some hesitations about BIC impeding on instructional time in the beginning, after implementation everyone quickly saw that in reality BIC blends in with instructional time. Students favor a routine, they know what to expect each morning. Instead of going into a crowded cafeteria where they may or may not have time to eat, they can go to their classroom, take time to actually eat their breakfast, and as a result become more engaged in the morning lessons.

Over the Hill and to the Classrooms, Breakfast is served at Ben L. Smith High School

We had the opportunity to also visit one of the PBIC high schools that have experienced tremendous gains in breakfast participation since implementation. Smith High School is a large campus with an enrollment of over 1,200 students. One of the reasons that BIC has been so successful in this high school is that breakfast is delivered to the classroom by foodservice staff.

When we walked into the cafeteria we saw seven flatbed dollies filled with containers ready for delivery. The cafeteria is housed in a separate structure from the main two-story building. To ensure that meals were delivered on time Adnan Raja, the Cafeteria Manager, made adjustments so the flatbed could go down the stairs and make its way to the main building.

It was heartwarming to hear every single foodservice staff says that it is worth it, worth seeing their students fed each morning. Since the beginning of BIC, breakfast participation numbers have more than doubled. This translates to 500 additional students eating a breakfast before the start of their school day.

By working collaboratively together on the national, state and local levels- Guilford County School District successfully implemented BIC in 12 schools for SY12-13.

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