A guest post by School Nutrition Foundation Senior Program Manager, Paula Zdanowicz, MPH
Last week SNF visited Harriet Gifford Elementary School in Elgin, a suburb of Chicago, for a Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom media event.
School District U-46 has experienced great success with expanding its school breakfast participation. Since the beginning of BIC, participation numbers have more than tripled, resulting in 2,587 additional students eating breakfast before the start of their school day.
Holding these events has been a great way to educate local media on the success of programs that are benefiting local students. It also provides an opportunity for the community to see behind the scenes operations that make BIC such a success.
The manner in which each breakfast eventually makes its way to the classroom is different for each district. School District U-46 has a central commissary that prepares all of the school meals and then delivers them to the individual school sites the day before service. Staff at each school then counts and stages the meals for the next day’s delivery, cutting morning prep time. We had a chance to speak to Sally Stannard, Food Service Lead, and Jayne Perez, Assistant Lead, at Harriet Gifford who praised the program. Prior to BIC, the school was serving approximately 100 breakfasts a day, primarily to students who came early on the buses. Now they are serving over 400 breakfasts a day, offering breakfast to every student. Together they echo the sentiment that, “they know that the children who come to school hungry will have a chance to eat; having full stomachs will help them succeed academically”.
Each morning, Sally and her staff of two pack coolers and hot bags in preparation for delivery to the classroom. When procuring equipment for BIC, foodservice sourced coolers that would be durable, easy to clean and would allow for easy delivery to the classrooms by students. Thanks to best practices and advice shared by other PBIC funded districts, School District U-46 was able to secure hard-sided coolers that that met its needs. Other districts like Knox County Public Schools (TN) use soft-sided coolers that fit their delivery models and storage capacity.
To simplify delivery and distribution of meals; inside each cooler there are counted out meals per classroom and an accountability sheet. On top, soft-sided coolers contain milk cartons.
During our visit we observed breakfast in a fourth grade classroom. Along with many local, state and national partners, Captain Nutrition, made a special appearance and gave out autographs to the students. Superintendent Dr. Torres spoke on behalf of School District U-46 stating, “we believe that the students will reap in the nutritional and potential academic benefits from the opportunity to have breakfast each and every day”.
Thanks to all of the local and national partners who have been such strong advocates:
- Kathryn Castle, Elgin Teachers Association
- Joe Corcoran, School Principal, Harriet Gifford Elementary
- Diane Doherty, Illinois Hunger Coalition
- Kristin Frank, Program Manager, Health and Wellness Midwest Dairy Council
- Eyang Garrison, Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (Food Research and Action Center)
- Christina Hernandez, Manager of the U-46 Commissary, School District U-46
- Erica Jones, Walmart Communications
- Patrick Moggy, Communications Director, School District U-46
- Kim Pankowski, Field Specialist, School District U-46
- Dr. Jose M. Torres, Superintendent, School District U-46
- Kaitlin Wolfe, Director of Operations for Northern Illinois, Walmart
- Paula Zdanowicz, Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (School Nutrition Foundation)