Serving universal breakfast after-the-bell is the primary cause for participation gains in breakfast programs. Large urban districts like Houston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark, Chicago, Dallas, and Memphis have adopted classroom breakfast and other alternative models of breakfast service that have dramatically increased participation. States including New Mexico and Colorado have legislated that schools with a high percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-priced meals are required to serve breakfast after the bell. State superintendents of education in California and Pennsylvania have issued memos that classroom breakfast time is instructional time, mainly in order to reduce the perception that breakfast eaten during class competes with learning time and objectives.
Whether introducing breakfast for the first time, expanding as a traditional cafeteria model, or implementing an alternative breakfast model, engaging the school community and building stakeholder awareness is essential. Educating your superintendent, school board, school site administration, teachers, support staff, parents, and students on the need for and benefits of offering breakfast is key to success. Unlike lunch, the benefits of children eating breakfast have been studied exhaustively. These Case Studies & Supporting Research can provide talking points and supporting evidence for your proposed changes.
Cultivating relationships with your “breakfast stakeholders” is an important component of success. Depending on the breakfast model, you’ll find a variable level of confidence and support from your team, administration, principals, teachers, parents, and especially students.
Typically, after-the-bell breakfast eaten in the classroom (whether delivered or “Grab 'n Go”) is the most challenging. To best prepare a proposal, we encourage you to:
- Assess the school sites
- Analyse your school data and fiscal opportunities
- Research and choose a specific operational model
- Present the opportunity as a well-developed extension plan (including the benefits of healthy breakfast)
Establish support with your supervisor for the project, and then identify which stakeholder support is needed. Engaging key district administrators and principals early in the process will help your breakfast expansion flourish. Educating superintendents, principals, and other staff and administrators about the academic, health, and financial benefits of breakfast in the district is essential.
If you plan to expand to Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), your administrators can help the program’s sustainability by ensuring that BIC time counts as instructional time (see instructional time fact sheet from FRAC). Breakfast in the classroom typically takes approximately ten minutes and works well with the first period routines of taking attendance, announcements, and turning in homework.
Parents and students also play a key role in your success. Surveys, presentations at PTO meetings, and focus groups can be effective in responding to concerns, educating the community, and receiving ideas to solidify support for your program rollout. Visit our Case Studies & Supporting Research page for talking points.
Once you have engaged the key players, you may need to revise or adjust your initial plan based on feedback. Flexibility and cooperation are paramount when implementing alternative breakfast.
Marketing Your Breakfast Expansion
More than any other meal, breakfast requires real engagement with the school community, particularly for Alternative Breakfast models served after the bell. Some districts create breakfast expansion teams of key stakeholders who support marketing the breakfast program. Efforts often include branding the district’s program (see Marketing Your Program section) and pushing the message out through the media, district website, videos, and materials sent home to parents (see a sample Pre-Launch Parent Letter).
The USDA’s School Breakfast Program website provides excellent tools for marketing your program including:
- Information on creating a marketing plan
- Marketing activities
- Downloadable resources
- Customizable templates for creating flyers, newsletters, and PSAs
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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