Expanding the locations and methods used to serve breakfast in your district impacts many areas of your operation—from fiscal tracking to assigned labor hours and the foods you serve. It also impacts the daily routine and schedules of the school sites. Principals, custodians, teachers, and parents are all impacted by adding or changing breakfast service at their school. Preparation for change includes studying other “best practices” as well identifying what type of expansion is most feasible through fiscal analysis.
If your district is considering expansion of school breakfast, there are many useful toolkits and resources available to support your efforts. Here are links to some of our favorites:
- Breakfast in the Classroom Toolkit (Chicago Public Schools Nutrition Services)
- Breakfast in the Classroom, A Quick Guide for Teachers (New Mexico Public Education Department Student Nutrition Association)
- Chicago Public Schools Policy Manual - Breakfast in the Classroom (Chicago Public Schools)
- First Class Breakfast in Maryland: A Guide to Expanding School Breakfast (A Project of Kaiser Permanente and The Maryland Partnership to End Childhood Hunger)
- NEA Health Information Network School Breakfast Toolkit (NEA Health Information Network)
Additionally, local, state, and federal agencies are working throughout the country to provide the support, information, and education necessary for districts to successfully start or expand their breakfast programming.
Rather than duplicate work that is being done well by others, we will focus on the food service department’s operational and fiscal requirements to assist in identifying the service models you should pursue. We will also explore the essential factors that must be in place for sustainable and successful breakfast programs.
Determining Feasibility and Expansion Type
What are your best opportunities for expansion? If your state legislation requires implementation of breakfast after the bell, and you are not currently compliant, then the state guidelines will outline the direction that you need to take. If there is no state legislation in place, how do you determine the expansion options that will work for you? It’s not uncommon to see a blend of service options from Traditional Breakfast to Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) in a single district. A flexible breakfast program can enable you to maximize participation levels depending on each school’s characteristics.
While breakfast service decisions are often determined on a school-by-school basis with consideration for individual site criteria and needs, it’s important to remember that the overall success of breakfast implementation is determined by your ability to balance the expenses and revenues in your fund. A common question is: what is the threshold of eligibility that will ensure fiscal success for universal breakfast implementation? And more specifically, what is the eligibility threshold for free-and-reduced-priced meals that will ensure fiscal sustainability for a universal BIC model? There are districts that challenge the common presumption that a school should have at least 60% eligibility for free-and reduced-priced meals to justify operating a universal program.
Districts with ranges of 40% to 100% eligibility for free-and-reduced-priced meals operate universal BIC in schools. They evaluate the potential by analyzing the probable participation results across all of their sites. As long as their expenses are not exceeding their revenue their breakfast expansion is fiscally sustainable. For traditional cafeteria breakfast service served before the bell, a typical threshold for implementation is 35% eligibility for free-and-reduced-priced meals, but it is not uncommon to see breakfast offered at much lower thresholds.
Traditional breakfast can be managed with limited labor (depending on the menu), and it provides an option for hungry kids regardless of income level. Our Breakfast Site Calculator and Breakfast District-Wide Calculator will assist you in analyzing the feasibility of expansion for your district. You can build “what if?” scenarios for your district by setting up presumptions of participation based on the planned breakfast models at each of the schools in your district. The calculator will then extrapolate the revenue and expense for you.
By taking advantage of our Fiscal Management tools, you will have all of the pertinent data on labor, student participation, and the fiscal health of your department’s fund in one place. The critical data sets are:
- By-site enrollment and eligibility data
- Average daily participation by meal type
- Average daily participation by eligibility
- Staffing information by school site: number of employees, total labor hours
- Current fund health: fund balance available to cover early start-up costs or deficits as the new breakfast program develops
- Operational model type
- District student transportation program
Breakfast After the Bell! Appleseed
Appleseed helps bring better grades, behavior, and health to over 60,000 NM children with Breakfast After The Bell legislation.
BREAKFAST TOOLS & RESOURCES
Visit our Breakfast Tools & Resources page for worksheets, calculators, signage, guides, and more.
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