This is a guest post from Appleseed Health Care intern Suzie Cho.
During the month of October, Nebraska Appleseed, in partnership with Safeway and the Albertsons Companies Foundation, hosted the Western Nebraska Better Breakfast Challenge to help schools jumpstart their breakfast programs and improve participation.
The Challenge saw 12 elementary schools in Gering, Hemingford, Mitchell, Morrill, Paxton, and Scottsbluff compete to increase their school breakfast participation, comparing October 2016 average daily participation to October 2017. All schools received a $200 incentive to participate and the three schools with the biggest increase won $100, $200, or $500.
These schools laid out a plan to implement an alternative breakfast model (such as Grab & Go or Second Chance) or improve their current model to make breakfast more accessible.
Across these schools, students, teachers, and nutrition staff worked together to make breakfast a more fun and nutritious part of the school day, and let their creativity and participation shine through.
On to the winners…!
Better Breakfast Challenge – 3rd Place
Westmoor Elementary School, Scottsbluff
For the Western Nebraska Better Breakfast Challenge, Westmoor Elementary School, part of Scottsbluff Public Schools, planned to promote the school breakfast program with notes and flyers home to parents, incentive for the kids to participate, and fun new promo materials.
They decided to go with a new breakfast menu that included a protein as well! Apparently the combination of strategies worked and Westmoor increased their breakfast participation by almost 3.5 percent.
Well done Westmoor!
Better Breakfast Challenge – 2nd Place
Hemingford Public Schools
When Hemingford Public Schools signed up for the Western Nebraska Better Breakfast Challenge, they decided to use the $200 incentive to purchase a fruit slushy machine. For the month of October, the school served slushies to their students for their fruit requirement and the students love it! This likely contributed to the nearly 5% increase in breakfast participation between last year and this year.
Hemingford plans to continue using the slushy machine for the foreseeable future and who can blame them? It’s fun and it gets kids eating.
Better Breakfast Challenge – 1st Place
Morrill Public Schools
For years, Morrill High School students had to walk about 5 minutes to the Elementary school to get a breakfast through the school’s breakfast program. This made for a difficult decision for the nearly 160 high schoolers: be on time to class and skip breakfast or rush to the Elementary school and grab a meal before being counted late. An average day saw just 8 high schoolers get breakfast in 2016.
Morrill used the $200 Better Breakfast Challenge incentive to remove this barrier. They worked with their food service provider to start a Grab and Go and Second Chance breakfast program in the high school building itself so kids had more time to get food and make it to class. And it worked!
Compared to 2016, October 2017 participation jumped over 19 percent! The school made the biggest improvement to their breakfast participation numbers and is planning to continue the program. Morrill Public Schools is our Western Nebraska Better Breakfast Challenge winner!
Congratulations to all the Better Breakfast Challenge participants and we look forward to hearing more stories about small changes that make big impacts in breakfast. Contact Eric Savaiano firstname.lastname@example.org to see how your school can help make sure your students are starting the day with a healthy breakfast that gets them ready for classroom success!