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School Breakfast Challenge

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Overview

Kids Holding SignEating a school breakfast helps kids start the day right, improves academic scores, increases attendance and reduces behavior problems. Schools do many things to help increase breakfast participation; moving breakfast to the classroom or creating grab and go kiosks or carts in busy entry points are all great ways to drive participation, but adding a little competition helps, too.

What is a breakfast challenge? It is a contest between schools or within a school to increase breakfast participation among students. It’s implemented by comparing grade levels, classrooms, or even schools to determine which group has the greatest school breakfast participation during a set time-period. End with a class or schoolwide celebration. Hosting a school breakfast challenge is a great way to get everyone excited about starting the day eating healthy food.

Take Action

  • Begin planning 3-4 weeks in advance to coordinate efforts and, when appropriate, engage your school health team. Delegate some of the planning tasks to your school health team or other school groups, and recruit parent and community volunteers.
  • For a single school event, determine if your school challenge will be grade vs. grade or class vs. class. For a district challenge, consider how each school will challenge others within the district. A district challenge can be effective at the high school level, as these students have a great deal of school pride and are already competing against each other in sports, academics, or other activities.
  • Communication is key! If the challenge is within one school, engage the principal, teachers, parents, and other local school wellness champions. If the challenge is between multiple schools, ask the superintendent to share the challenge with principals.
  • Conduct a student survey to determine incentives and identify barriers to school breakfast participation.
  • Incentivize with creative and low-cost events and prizes!
  • Utilize National School Breakfast Week activities to discover additional ideas for celebrating and engaging students.
  • Create a planning checklist and include items such as:
      • Posters, flyers, and messages for promotion and marketing
      • Communication strategies to engage staff, teachers, students, parents and administrators
      • Creative tools to track breakfast data, such as a giant thermometer with all breakfasts for a school vs. the competitor or a bar graph with all grades or classrooms so all can see how each grade or class is doing
  • Plan weekly ways to engage students and celebrate. Possible ideas may include:
      • Week 1: Utilize a Robocall to kick off the event and encourage breakfast participation. Inform families on where and when breakfasts are served, highlight new or favorite breakfast items, and reinforce the importance of breakfast for health and academics.
      • Week 2: Host a student poster contest on the importance of school breakfast and the components of a healthy meal.
      • Week 3: Implement a raffle or incentive program for participating in school breakfast.
      • Week 4: Host a breakfast taste test during a parent meeting.
      •  Week 5: Invite the winning school breakfast challenge group to a community breakfast event with local celebrities or athletes.

Tips

Try running a school breakfast challenge kick-off event during National School Breakfast Week in early March, and run the challenge through Every Kid Healthy Week at the end of April. Schools or classes with the greatest increase in participation or that meet a certain target win the challenge! It’s always great when the entire school gets to celebrate and ‘win.’

Celebrate your success by hosting a school-wide family fitness night or invite the families of the winning class to a community breakfast event with families.

Link the event to the Learning Connection. Spring is often busy with school testing, and breakfast supports academic performance.

Engage volunteers by enlisting parents, teachers and others to help with planning the challenge and manage the tracking of breakfasts within the school.

Ask local businesses for donations of items or gift cards that you can use as prizes and rewards.

Invite a local chef, celebrity or athlete to come in and share their favorite healthy breakfast recipe to get students and families excited.