Eating Breakfast in the Classroom Takes Off in Bradford Schools
School Street Elementary School & George G. Blaisdell Elementary School
Thanks to some inspiration and planning, an innovative provision in the National School Lunch Program, and support from Action for Healthy Kids, students at School Street and George G. Blaisdell elementary schools in Bradford, Pennsylvania are now starting their school day with a healthy breakfast.
Bradford Area School District (BASD) is home to many parents who work hard to support their families, but who live near the poverty line. In 2016, just over half of the district’s students lived in food-insecure households and qualified for free or reduced-priced meals—and the families of those who didn’t qualify were struggling to pay. Both School Street and Blaisdell teachers regularly saw students coming to school hungry, and the district knew it was time to make a change.
BASD decided to start participating in the Community Eligibility Provision, a non-pricing meal service option authorized as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that allows the nation’s highest-poverty schools and districts to serve free meals to students without the burden of collecting household applications. But that was just the beginning. After Food Service Director Dana Mollander visited other schools in the area that were successfully serving breakfast in the classroom, BASD decided to implement similar programs at School Street and Blaisdell. In order to fund them, Senior Accountant Amy Yohe applied for Action for Healthy Kids breakfast grants, funded by the Walmart Foundation. Both schools were awarded $3,000 grants, which they used to purchase hard rolling coolers for milk, juice and fruit, and soft-sided coolers for breakfast entrées for the younger grades. For the older grades, they set up a Grab & Go kiosk where students could pick up breakfast to take to their classrooms.
The schools made sure to widely promote the new breakfast program at their back-to-school rally prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year. The event featured a breakfast entrée taste-testing station, where students and parents were welcome to try samples of the more than 12 different entrées that would now be offered to all students at no cost. Flyers described the program and enticed the parents to endorse the new district-wide program.
The results have been nothing short of amazing. The schools set a goal to increase participation by 100%—double the average number of breakfasts served in 2016—by the end of October. Both schools met or exceeded that target by the end of September and expect to continue to grow in the numbers of students starting their day with breakfast.
“The breakfast participation has exceeded our goals far more quickly than anticipated,” Yohe said. “This participation level continued through mid-September and has even risen slightly!”
Superintendent Katharine Pude was also pleased with the implementation of the program: “The planning that went into the program I think definitely pays off, and the breakfast program went very smoothly in every building,” she said.
Action for Healthy Kids is proud to be partnering with Bradford Area School District and congratulates them on a successful start to the school year!