Breakfast in the ClassroomPrint Page
Don’t let a hungry stomach lead to a distracted mind! Studies show that good nutrition leads to improved classroom performance, higher test scores, and better behavior. It can be a challenge to get students to the cafeteria before school, so consider making breakfast a part of the school day with Breakfast in the Classroom! Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) works especially well in elementary school but is easily adapted for all grade levels, helping students begin their day nourished and ready to learn.
- Discuss BIC with your school stakeholders. Get the principal on board by showing him/her research that demonstrates how breakfast improves academic scores while reducing absenteeism and classroom disruptions. Plus, feeding more students breakfast results in increased reimbursements, which can improve the school’s food service program bottom line.
- Once you have administrative approval, work with teachers and custodians to gain buy in and communicate to parents the new plan. Incorporate their ideas and address their concerns early.
- Be prepared to address concerns. Avoid the following perceived barriers!
- Perception: Breakfast in the Classroom will cut into instructional time.
Reality: The first 10-15 minutes of class time is spent in activities that accommodate the eating of breakfast – like announcements, attendance, organization, etc.
- Perception: Meals in the classroom will be messy.
Reality: Menus are simple and planned to reduce messiness. Menus include items that are hand-held and easily eaten by students. Surveyed schools with BIC report that trash and messes were easily handled, and did not cause a problem as originally anticipated by teachers and other school staff. Each classroom can have its own disinfectant spray bottle, paper towels, and a broom/dustpan for spills, but these items are rarely needed. In most schools, students are responsible for keeping their own areas clean and tend to be careful when eating their meals. Consider designating a classroom job to be the one who cleans up after breakfast.
- Perception: Teachers will resist the idea.
Reality: Teachers who are now doing BIC are the strongest advocates of the program. They see the benefits of well-fed students and improved academic and classroom behavior. Some schools also give their teachers a breakfast at no charge as a “thank you” for their participation, and to model correct eating behaviors to the students. Note: Teachers can receive a breakfast at no charge, as they are now considered part of the food service program.
Prepare teachers with facts about the nutrition of the breakfast items being served (to teach nutrition education) and the benefits of the program on student academic achievement.
Introduce breakfast changes to families by highlighting at PTA or other parent events. Include breakfast tasting and samples.
Talk to others who have had success—find out what worked, what didn’t and why. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Utilize their menus, training programs, policies, and procedures. Consider visiting a school who is successfully implementing BIC.
Set up clear clean-up procedures.
Apply for a school grant to purchase equipment and materials to support Breakfast in the Classroom.
Engage families and volunteers to help with delivery and prepping or unpacking delivery bags.