Nebraska Appleseed helps offer technical assistance and financial support to eligible Nebraska schools that switch to breakfast in the classroom through the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom initiative. See if your school is eligible. This blog is part of a series highlighting the benefits of breakfast in the classroom and its effects on student outcomes.
It’s been proven again and again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for adults and children alike. However, many children have to miss out on this essential part of their day because they can’t make it to the school cafeteria on time.
There are, however, several alternative breakfast service models available that can provide more meals to more children and eliminate the timing problem for schools. These are breakfast in the classroom, Grab and Go, and Second Chance.
Breakfast in the classroom is one alternative delivery method where children, as suggested by the title, eat their breakfast in their classroom. Ideal for lower-level grades, students eat during the first 10–15 minutes of class, during morning announcements, or while the teacher takes attendance. The school nutrition staff packs breakfast into coolers or insulated bags to be transported to each classroom. This program can also be valuable in the classroom as a means to teach nutrition lessons or incorporate breakfast into math, reading, or science lessons.
Grab and Go is when students pick up prepared breakfast meals before the bell on the way to class. Kiosks or service carts are monitored by staff in the hallways, and students can grab a packaged meal as they please. Grab and Go works well for schools that do not have the capacity to deliver food to each and every classroom or have multiple floors that make delivery unserviceable.
The Second Chance breakfast model is where students are able to eat not only before school begins, but also after first period, either in the cafeteria or in a classroom during the transition period. Second Chance breakfast works particularly well for secondary schools because older students are often not hungry early in the morning and tend to arrive at school closer to the start of the school day.
One district in New Mexico saw the benefits of offering breakfast after the bell and saw a 20 percent jump in breakfast participation in one year. Not only does this support student learning and health, but also supports the school financially with increased federal reimbursements for meals.
With so many children in our nation going hungry each day, it’s important that we do everything that we can to make sure students are getting the meals they need to learn and grow. If it means changing our systems to do that, it seems well worth it.