Bringing Breakfast to the Classroom– and to More Students
Thanks to a $1,000 School Breakfast grant from Action for Healthy Kids, made possible by Walmart Foundation, more students at Epiphany School in Dorchester, Massachusetts, are able to start their day off right and eat breakfast in the classroom.
In the past, students had often skipped this important meal, socializing with their friends rather than sitting down in the cafeteria to eat in the morning. Looking to increase meal participation, the school moved breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom – a calmer and more controlled environment that allowed students to focus on eating their meal. While the kitchen staff had the basic equipment they needed to deliver the food to each classroom, they didn’t have a way to keep hot items hot and cold items cold.
Fortunately, the school was able to use the AFHK grant funds it received to purchase insulated bags that keep the food temperature controlled – and appetizing – for longer periods of time. Vice Principal Frank Penney said the addition of the bags has been critical in increasing breakfast participation, allowing breakfast carts to remain out until 9:30 a.m. and giving students who arrive late or want breakfast later in the morning the opportunity to eat. Sue Bielamowicz, head chef, said the bags have also made set-up and cleanup much smoother and more efficient for the kitchen staff.
To go along with the other improvements it had made to the breakfast program, the school was eager to update the menu with new items students were more likely to eat. Bielamowicz said the grant funds allowed kitchen staff to purchase new ingredients and supplies to conduct taste tests and gave them the flexibility to try out new items on the breakfast menu.
Penney summed up the results of the grant. “We have found that giving students the opportunity to eat breakfast later in the morning ensures that they do indeed eat, which alleviates mood and behavioral challenges that arise when a student is hungry,” he said. “We have also found that less food is being wasted when served in the classroom versus the cafeteria.”