Breakfast for Learning
Dec 07, 2016

Principals at the Forefront of Learning

FRAC Learn with BreakfastPrincipals are tasked with the unique challenge of cultivating an environment that encourages students to succeed academically. Holistic approaches recognize that it is difficult for hungry students to learn. Students that begin each day with a nutritious breakfast have the energy necessary to perform at their very best in the classroom, and principals play a pivotal role in making this a reality.

Traditionally, breakfast is served before the start of the school day which can be difficult for students to access due to a number of reasons: late buses, hectic morning schedules or the desire to socialize with friends. Implementing proven strategies (i.e. Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go, Second Chance Breakfast) that increase breakfast participation are made possible by a principal’s leadership. Principals are able to galvanize the school community to serve breakfast in a more on-the-go friendly model and set school building guidance that permits students to finish their morning meal in the classroom.

Download this report to read about principals’ experiences with implementing breakfast in the classroom. Talk with your nutrition staff, custodial services and teachers to engage in a conversation about school breakfast and its importance for student academic achievement. Create an action plan to implement an alternative breakfast service model that would increase the reach of your School Breakfast Program.

For more information about increasing the reach of your School Breakfast Program, visit the Food Research and Action Center.

Thinking Outside the Box for School Breakfast

A nutritious breakfast is an essential building block for creating a school environment that cultivates academic success. Student hunger takes on many different forms in the classroom, including headaches, disruptive behavior and poor academic performance. Research suggests that students that eat school breakfast close to test-taking time, perform better on standardized tests than their classmates that skip this meal or that have it at home. Despite the availability of the School Breakfast Program, each day vulnerable students are missing out on this important morning meal. For school year 2013-2014, a little less than half of low-income children who ate through the National School Lunch Program participated in the School Breakfast program. Why is that?

School breakfast is often served early in the morning, before the start of school, in the cafeteria. Late buses, hectic morning schedules, unreliable public transportation, stigma or a desire to catch up with friends are some of the reasons why students do not participate in school breakfast. Altering the way that breakfast is served, by incorporating it as a part of the school day, overcomes these challenges and dramatically increases breakfast participation rates. There are three common strategies to improve the reach of the School Breakfast Program which include, Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go Breakfast and Second Chance Breakfast.

The Breakfast in the Classroom model operates by having meals delivered directly to the classrooms using hot and cold portable bags. This strategy is often employed with elementary school students. Grab and Go Breakfast, a model often used with middle and high schoolers, places pre-packaged meals in high traffic areas of the school building. As they arrive, students grab a breakfast, eating it in the hallway and typically completing the remainder of that meal in the classroom. With the Second Chance Breakfast model, breakfasts are served during an extended passing period sometime after the first bell. Students are able to go to designated locations within the building, including the cafeteria, to eat breakfast or to grab a pre-packaged meal that is eaten in the classroom.

Boosting school breakfast participation is not a one size fits all strategy. Selecting the best alternative breakfast service model for your school depends on a number of factors such as layout of your building, age of students and available resources. Gather key stakeholders such as teachers, nutrition staff and custodial services to discuss the educational benefits of breakfast and the positive impact that it can have on the school environment. Together, develop a plan to implement an alternative breakfast service model that fits your school’s unique needs. To facilitate strategy development, review this chart to understand the key components of each service model. For more information and resources about School Breakfast, visit the Food Research and Action Center.

School Breakfast Builds Champions

The first period bell has rung, and the day’s lesson has begun but are your students ready to learn? School Breakfast helps to builds student champions by providing students with the nutrients necessary to be mentally and physically prepared for the school day’s academic activities. Unfortunately, many students who struggle with hunger each day miss this important meal, because it is served early in the morning before school starts. Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go and Second Chance Breakfast are proven strategies that alter the way breakfast is served so that it becomes an integral part of the regular school day. As the principal of your school, you serve the unique role of shaping the school’s learning environment and ensuring that students are equipped with the tools necessary to reach their full academic potential. Enhance the learning environment by implementing an alternative breakfast service model that allows your students to get breakfast as a part of the school day. Learn more about how to accomplish this with resources from the Food Research and Action Center.