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Creative strategies to maintain successful breakfast programs are employed in many of Pennsylvania's schools. Foodservice staff at these schools, often in collaboration with personnel from other disciplines and from the community at large, devise innovative plans for increasing breakfast participation rates and improving the nutritional quality of breakfast items, all while gaining support from various stakeholders. Transforming a section of the school library into a cafe, using peer education to promote breakfast, serving breakfast in the hallways, and inviting parents to participate in the breakfast program are just a few of the many success stories described here. The schools and districts represented in this collection have shared their successful tactics by way of Project PA's "Promising Practices" reporting form. These School Breakfast Promising Practicies offer insight and advice about beginning and sustaining successful breakfast programs for all grade levels - elementary through high school.

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  • Chichester School District Increases Breakfast Participation

    Description

    In order to increase breakfast participation and feed more students the Chichester School District enrolled two schools (Linwood Elementary and Marcus Hook Elementary) in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The move to CEP was advertised with flyers which were sent home to parents. Along with the increased participation came unexpected barriers, which the Food Service Director met head on.

    The first obstacle was time. The schools only have 15 minutes in which to feed 150 students breakfast. The increased volume necessitated the streamlining of the point of sale which was accomplished with a new point of sale system. This eliminated the freeze-ups of the old system and more quickly identified students, both of which helped to process students more quickly.

    The increased volume also required more space. Working with the administration, the gym was open for breakfast so that student overflow from the cafeteria would not spill out into the halls. Finally, the menu was tweaked to increase participation and minimize waste by considering student preferences when planning the menus. This increased turnout and decreased waste.

    In the end breakfast participation in the two schools increased from an average number of servings per day which was in the sixties to a number which was well over 100.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Dimitra Barrios
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 485-6881 ext. 6403

    Advice

    • When considering CEP do the math, run the numbers, and ensure that it is economically feasible for your school.
    • Anticipate an increase in participation by having enough staff ready.
    • Enlist the help of school administrators. Ensure buy-in from Principals and the superintendent.
    • Advertise the program and enlist the help of students and staff.
    • Try to anticipate various changes and be flexible when the unexpected occurs. For example, when a school signs up under CEP students may suddenly have money for ala carte items which they did not have previously. Consider what you will offer them.

    Evidence of Success

    • Anecdotally, the students are excited, there has been good publicity generated, and the mood of the students has improved.
    • Chichester was recognized with an Honorable Mention award in the Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge based on a 17.3% increase in breakfast participation at Linwood Elementary and a 13% increase at Marcus Hook Elementary comparing Fall of 2014 to Fall of 2015.
  • Curwensville Junior/Senior High School Makes School Breakfast Convenient for Students

    Description

    In order to increase participation in school breakfast Curwensville Junior/Senior High School, under the leadership of Cafeteria Manager Andy Evanko, made it extremely easy and convenient for students to choose to eat breakfast at school.

    While they maintained a traditional cafeteria-style breakfast for those students who preferred to have breakfast “the old-fashioned way” they also procured two mobile carts and stationed them in high-traffic areas. One was stationed in the area where the students got off the bus and wait for the bell. The other was placed in the middle of the school for easy access. The “Grab ‘n Go” style of breakfast made it more appealing to senior high students. With the support of the principal, they were also able to extend the breakfast serving time by keeping the carts open after the homeroom period until the beginning of the second period.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Andy Evanko
    Contact Person’s Title: Cafeteria Manager
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 236-1100

    Advice

    • Place the product where the students are.
    • Offer breakfast items in a variety of ways.
    • Be visible. Get the attention of the students.
    • Work with the administration to extend breakfast service for at least two high school periods.
    • Make the food easily available, highly visible, easily accessible, and serve what the students want.

    Evidence of Success

    • Participation increased from 15-20 breakfasts served per day to well over 200 per day.
    • The assistant principal reports the following changes which have been noted since the implementation of strategies to increase school breakfast participation:
    • School attendance has increased by a total of 195 days.
    • Reports of behavioral misconduct dropped by 25 reports per year.
    • “Late to class” misconduct reports dropped from 21 reports in school year 2014/2015 to one report in 2015/2016.
    • Reports from the school nurse suggest that students who exit the bus complaining of stomach aches and are directed to breakfast never return to see the nurse.
    • Curwensville Junior/Senior High School was recognized as a Top Performer among Junior/Senior High Schools in the 2015/16 Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge based on an increase in participation from 4.5% in the Fall of 2014 to 28.3% in the Fall of 2015.
  • Erie Schools Increase Breakfast Participation with Breakfast in the Classroom

    Description

    Erie’s public schools, although participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) had a lackluster school breakfast participation rate of between 14-44% during School Year 2013/2014. Some behavior issues were noted as children from all grades within the schools were together in the same cafeteria for the only breakfast session of the day creating a noisy and chaotic environment that spilled over into the hallways.

    With the goal of improving participation, barriers were identified. The biggest factor was students not arriving at school in time to participate in breakfast. Many students barely arrived in time for the start of class, let alone early enough to eat breakfast. In addition, there was a stigma attached to the students who entered the cafeteria for breakfast.

    After conducting research, it was determined that students in the elementary schools would all be offered Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC). An assessment identified both the schools with the greatest need as well as the schools with principals who were most enthusiastic about the idea. Phase one of the plan was to offer (in School Year 2014/2015) BIC to all of the district’s 12 elementary schools as well as one of the two middle schools, and one charter school. The first BIC was offered in August of 2014. After a year and a half, phase one was completed and a total of 14 schools and 316 classrooms now have breakfast delivered to the classrooms every day.

    Phase two of the plan will begin next year and will include the remaining schools, including both high schools and a middle school. These schools will be offered a Grab ‘n Go style breakfast from strategically placed kiosks.

    The plan has been an unqualified success. Every school principal is now fully backing the plan. Participation has increased dramatically. Attendance has increased, tardiness has decreased, visits to the nurse have decreased, and teachers report that student behavior is much better. Now, the classrooms are quiet and devoid of chaos. Principals who were once skeptical or even hostile to the idea are now championing BIC to other schools.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jenny Johns
    Contact Person’s Title: Assistant General Manager
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 874-6888

    Objectives

    • To reduce the level of hunger of school students
    • To increase school breakfast participation.

    Advice

    • Use the Breakfast in the Classroom (www.breakfastintheclassroom.org) website for information, help, and even grant money. The program would not have been possible without this help.
    • Visit other schools that offer BIC to get ideas and advice.
    • Generate buy-in from school administrators and other stakeholders.
    • Implement the plan in phases and use existing school food workers and administrators to champion BIC to schools who are unsure of the concept.

    Evidence of Success

    • Participation rates have increased from 14-44% to 50-81%.
    • In one year the number of breakfasts served increased from 491,000 to well over 899,000, an increase of over 408,000 breakfasts served.
    • Attendance rates have increased.
    • Trips to the nurse’s office have decreased.
    • Trips to the principal’s office have decreased.
    • Teachers no longer have to bring snacks to school for hungry students.
    • Classrooms and hallways are much quieter.
  • Freeport Area School District Increases School Breakfast Participation

    Description

    Freeport Area School District’s breakfast program was new for school year 2014/2015. For school year 2015/2016 they set the goal of improving participation and utilized several strategies.

    At the elementary schools they utilized breakfast carts to take breakfast directly to the students. This evolved into offering a “Grab ‘n Go” breakfast that students can eat in the classroom. They also started offering “Grab ‘n Go” breakfasts at the middle school, along with offering it in the cafeteria each morning.

    To get the word out about the new programs and its offerings the district established a presence at open houses and parent/teacher conference nights. They also held Youth Advisory Council and Parent Advisory Council meetings which sought feedback from stakeholders which was used to improve the breakfast program.

    The success of the program was the product of a combined effort from the food service staff, teachers, administrators, and the school board.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Nolen Fetchko
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 295-5143 ext. 1252

    Advice

    • Be diligent in creating positive relationships among stakeholders.
    • Remember that a successful food service program entails the support of everyone within the district.
    • Consider the age of the students involved. For example, frozen fruit cups proved too difficult for kinder garters and first graders to open so these were replaced with bananas and pre-sliced apples.

    Evidence of Success

    • South Buffalo Elementary was recognized as a Top New Program in the 2015/16 Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge with a participation of 19%.
  • Gateway School District Maximizes School Breakfast

    Description

    Gateway School District’s Dr. Cleveland Steward Jr. Elementary School, which participated in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for school year 2014/2015 had experienced good school breakfast participation rates of around 70%. However, the traditional cafeteria service led to the school day consistently running a little bit long, and the school Principal sought ways of streamlining the operation.

    The school’s Director of Food Services, Martin Lorenzo, suggested bringing breakfast to the students via breakfast carts, and allowing them to eat breakfast in the classroom. The school Principal fully supported the idea and with the aid of carts provided by the dairy council the program began in school year 2015/2016. Since implemented, the school’s breakfast participation has increased to the point where September of 2016 saw a rate of 85%, and the school day is no longer running long. In addition, complaints of stomach aches are down, attendance is up, and teachers have commented that students are better behaved and are better able to learn.

    In the meantime, another Gateway School District Elementary School, Evergreen, started to participate in CEP for school year 2016/2017. Mr. Lorenzo foresaw this possibility and adopted Breakfast in the Classroom at the start of the year. He addressed the fears of teachers and administrators by having the Principal and cafeteria manager from the Dr. Cleveland Steward Jr. Elementary School come to Evergreen to address the staff. The cafeteria manager and some other key employees even worked at Evergreen for the first several days to implement the new program. The results at Evergreen were as successful as they were at the Cleveland Steward school with attendance rising from the previous year’s 29% to over 80%. Staff at the Evergreen Elementary School were pleased to note the same increase in attendance and good behavior as their coworkers at the Cleveland school.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Martin Lorenzo
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Service
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 373-5300 ext. 02405

    Objectives

    • To streamline school breakfast service so that it does not take up valuable time from the work day
    • To increase school breakfast participation.

    Advice

    • Generate buy-in from school administrators and other stakeholders.
    • Utilize students and volunteers to administer a Breakfast in the Classroom program. The Dr. Cleveland Steward Jr. Elementary School uses special education students from the Life Skills program to help.
    • Consider the age of the students involved. For example, frozen fruit cups proved too difficult for kinder garters and first graders to open so these were replaced with bananas and pre-sliced apples.
    • Have the students pre-order the next day’s breakfast at the previous day’s lunch service. This will help logistically.
    • Plan ahead before implementing a new program. Consider all objections and potential pitfalls and address them ahead of time.
    • Actively attempt to identify and encourage a champion of the program from among the stakeholders. It could be a teacher, staff member, or even parent who truly believes in the benefits of school breakfast.
    • Attempt to keep the option of breakfast available for students at least through the beginning of second period.
    • Don’t offer too many choices.

    Evidence of Success

    • The schools are no longer running overtime because of the breakfast program.
    • Participation rates have increased.
    • Attendance rates have increased.
    • Trips to the nurse’s office have decreased.
    • Trips to the Principal’s office have decreased.
    • Teachers have reported better student behavior.
  • Jeanette City School District Increases Breakfast Choices, Participation

    Description

    In an effort to increase breakfast participation Jeannette City School District ran numbers and decided they would participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). They knew this would likely increase participation, but they also knew that to maximize participation they would have to address other issues as well. They did this by implementing a three-part plan of promoting the program, improving the menu, and streamlining the service.

    They knew that simply opting for CEP alone would do no good unless the students and their families knew about it, so an advertisement and promotion campaign was initiated. Flyers were sent home, the program was touted on the school PA system, signs were erected, music was pumped into the cafeteria, free prize drawings were held for participants, and the program was talked up by school employees.

    The second part of the plan involved revamping the menu. For this, the members of the school food service sat down with students and determined their likes and dislikes. They learned that students wanted choices, and they wanted to be able to choose a hot breakfast item. Many new items were offered including breakfast tacos, banana bread, French toast, pancakes, waffles, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, and toast. In addition, a smoothie station was installed which offered fresh fruit smoothies approximately once a week.

    Finally, the school needed to cope with the additional participation. They knew that time was in short supply, so virtually all items are available for “Grab ‘n Go” service. The point-of-sale was also reconfigured to allow more students to pass though in less time, and the cashier has become one of the most popular members of the school staff. She promotes the program, offers a smile and encouragement to students, and when she is absent the students ask about her.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Kim Wooloff
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Program Coordinator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 523-6729 ext. 3122

    Advice

    • Be sure to offer hot items. Students really like to have the option of a hot breakfast, especially in the winter.
    • Encourage the staff to interact with the students, to sell the program, and to offer a kind word and a smile to all the kids.
    • Be prepared for an increase and ensure that there are always grab and go items available.
    • Save the very most popular items for a once a week treat so the students don’t tire of them.

    Evidence of Success

    • Participation in school breakfast increased by 29.5% at the high school level.
    • Absenteeism has decreased, especially on days when hot breakfast sandwiches or smoothies are offered.
    • Jeanette High School was recognized as a Top Performer in the 2015-2016 Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge based on a 30% increase in school breakfast participation comparing Fall of 2014 to Fall of 2015.
  • Jefferson County-Dubois Vocational Technical School Offers Universal Free Breakfast

    Description

    In an effort to increase breakfast participation Jefferson County-Dubois Technical School began to offer universal free breakfast and promote the program. The first challenge of the program was to get the word out that they would be offering free breakfast every day to all students. The school reached out to area organizations and solicited donations which were used to purchase gift cards that were then raffled off to students who participated in the breakfast program. This proved successful in getting the students to enter the cafeteria in the morning for breakfast. When students who normally wouldn’t eat breakfast saw others doing so it became fashionable for them to take part in the program.

    In addition, posters were made to announce the new program and letters were sent home with students to inform parents that their children could receive free breakfast at school. Cafeteria monitors and teachers became involved in the promotion and challenged themselves to increase breakfast participation. The increase served to further inspire the workers to listen to students to learn their likes and dislikes. The school offered as much variety as the staff could handle. The following year incentives were not needed to encourage the students to eat breakfast. Students at Jefferson Tech now know that breakfast is a great way to start the day.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Connie Swonger
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Program Coordinator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 653-8265

    Advice

    • Make it a school wide effort and get everyone involved.
    • Offer incentives if possible and promote the program as much as possible.
    • Take a look at the financial ramifications of offering universal free breakfast.
    • Send letters home to parents, advertise on the school website, over the school PA system, and with posters and flyers in the cafeteria.

    Evidence of Success

    • Participation in school breakfast increased.
    • School breakfast participation in September-December of 2014 was 24.5% compared to September –December of 2015 which was 38.1%, earning Jefferson County-Dubois Vocational Technical school “Runner-Up” recognition in the Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge. Participation for September-December of 2016 is expected to be upwards of 50%.
  • Pittsburgh's South Hills Middle School Revamps Breakfast Menu to Increase Participation

    Description

    In order to increase breakfast participation at South Hills Middle School the school’s Cafeteria Manager and a Guidance Counselor constructed a plan to improve the breakfast experience of the students. The project began by taking time to talk to the students to determine what they liked and did not like about the current menu. The menu was modified to offer items which were more popular and some of the least popular items were removed. Overall, more items were offered than before.

    The cafeteria was revamped as well, with the lines changed to route students past healthy, colorful fruits. The walls were painted and decorated with colorful posters created by the Cafeteria Manager. The staff was instructed and encouraged to talk up the changes and engage the students in conversation.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Amanda Paulus
    Contact Person’s Title: Cafeteria Manager
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 529-8178

    Advice

    • Pay close attention to what students are choosing and not choosing.
    • Take the time to talk to students one-on-one.
    • Listen to the students during meals to understand what they like and don’t like about their experience.

    Evidence of Success

    • On an average day there are five fewer wasted meals per day than before.
    • South Hills received Honorable Mention recognition in the PA school breakfast challenge based on a 15% increase in participation from Fall of 2014 to Fall of 2015.
  • Reading School District Doubles Elementary Lunch Participation With Breakfast In the Classroom

    Description

    Reading School District qualified for Community Eligibility Provision for the 2014-2015 school year. Since the cafeterias in many of the district's thirteen elementary schools were already overcrowded it was determined that implementation of a grab-and-go, breakfast in the classroom delivery system would be the best option for increasing participation.

    Younger (K-1) students and special needs students with physical disabilities have breakfasts delivered to them in the classrooms while other students utilize multiple school entry points where breakfasts are picked up at kiosks. With this method as many as 300 students can be served in five minutes per kiosk. Meals are recorded via mechanical clicker.

    By implementing this combination of classroom delivery and grab-and-go meals at kiosks breakfast participation in elementary schools has increased from an average of 3,590 per day to 8,123 per day, an increase of 226%. All leftover meal components are donated to the Greater Berks Food Bank. The Food Bank distributes the leftovers to local emergency shelters, soup kitchens, and homeless veterans.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Kurt D. Meyers
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Service
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (484) 258-7000 | FAX: (610) 371-5971

    Objectives

    • Every student will have the opportunity to eat breakfast each morning before school.

    Advice

    • Gain the support of your school district's governing body and administration
    • Allot more time for planning and project set up than you think you might need

    Evidence of Success

    • Feedback from teachers, students, and principals has been positive
    • Breakfast participation has increased by 226%
  • Free Breakfast and a Milk Mustache Contest Once a Month | St. Marys Area SD

    Description

    With many families experiencing financial difficulties in 2011, breakfast participation in the St. Marys ASD needed a boost despite the low prices for school meals. Finding innovative ways to promote the district’s school breakfast program while helping the community became a priority for the Food Service Director, Jennifer Asti. These two basic goals were the foundation for the promotions she began to conduct.

    Jennifer examined her budget to determine if her program could afford to support district-wide free breakfast. She decided that the reimbursements the district would get from the increase in participation she hoped for (10 to 15%) would make it affordable to offer free breakfast once a month. (NOTE: Even when schools offer free breakfast to all students, they must still count and claim students in the correct eligibility categories.)

    Thus, for one day in every month since October 2011 the district has offered breakfast for free in every building. Most “entree” items on these days are warm, including breakfast sandwiches, whole grain waffles, and blueberry pancakes, along with yogurt dishes and fruit. This outreach to the community puts the breakfast program on display, showing off the variety of low-cost foods available for breakfast while reminding families of the importance of breakfast for every student, every day. In turn the community views the district's breakfast program in a very positive light, with participation consistently increasing.

    Grades K-5 in each of the three elementary buildings also take part in a “Milk Mustache Program.” Each month on the free breakfast day, a student is randomly selected as the Milk Mustache poster student for the upcoming month. Each of these students chooses a theme for his/her own milk mustache poster, which reminds all students of the importance of consuming milk. The family of each month's Milk Mustache poster student is invited to participate in the free breakfast during which their child's poster is shown to the school. Students are always thrilled to have their families with them to watch as the posters they created are finally revealed.

    The cafeterias are decorated for the free breakfast days, and the staff help to find props and music to play. They also help students develop their Milk Mustache posters, and the principal and teachers pose for the posters when requested. These events provide students an opportunity to have fun while involved in school breakfast activities, all the while learning the crucial messages of the importance of eating breakfast and the importance of milk consumption.

    St. Marys Area School District is very proud of their School Breakfast Program. The district has received tremendous support from parents, faculty, and the community, and there are plans to expand the program to involve the older students with an age-appropriate “Free Breakfast Day” event.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jennifer Asti
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 781-2116

    Objectives

    • To promote the district's breakfast program by making it engaging and fun for the students.
    • To stress the importance of breakfast as a crucial part of everyone’s day, along with the importance of consuming milk.
    • To inform the community about the district's wonderful school breakfast program, the variety of foods offered, and the low prices.

    Advice

    • Evaluate staffing and budget first.
    • Don't be afraid to try different things.
    • Network with other schools to learn what they’re doing and if it is working. Something similar might work for you, too.
    • Trial and error can benefit your program.
    • Communicate with the administration. Tell them what your goal is, and ask them if they see any barriers, suggestions, etc.

    Evidence of Success

    • Administration always says that it is a fabulous program and a great educational tool that increases participation while creating a fun atmosphere for everyone.
    • Participation increased 2-3% in only the first couple of months, and participation  continued to grow steadily during the first year.
    • Enrollment has been dropping in the schools, yet participation in the breakfast program has increased.
    • Feedback from students, parents, faculty, other staff, and administration are all continuously positive.
  • Second Chance Breakfast Helps the Bottom Line | Philipsburg Osceola ASD

    Description

    Laura Frye, director of foodservice for Philipsburg-Osceola School District, noticed that only about 15% of the students in her high school were participating in school breakfast. She knew that many students were not eating breakfast before school and the most common reasons cited were a lack of time and an unwillingness or inability to arrive to school so early. Knowing the link between breakfast and student achievement, and with the foodservice operation in the red, Laura reasoned that she should make it as easy as possible for every student to eat breakfast in school. Then participation should increase, and both students and the school district would benefit.

    Philipsburg-Osceola was serving a traditional, before-school breakfast in the cafeteria. Laura met with school personnel and championed the need to augment this with alternative methods of delivering breakfast, citing supporting data about the importance of breakfast. Two carts were purchased, and were used to offer breakfast after first period – commonly known as “Second Chance” breakfast - on the school's second floor. Students can purchase a variety of grab-n-go breakfast items.

    In addition to the traditional before-school breakfast in the cafeteria and the Second Chance hallway carts on the second floor, breakfast is also served after first period in the first floor cafeteria. Students from study halls may eat in the cafeteria, and others are allowed to take breakfast into second period classes.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Laura Frye
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Services
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 343-1904
    FAX Number: (814) 343-7521

    Objectives

    • To make it as easy as possible for students to participate in the school breakfast program
    • To communicate to students and staff the well-documented benefits of eating breakfast
    • To increase participation in school breakfast

    Advice

    • Provide administration with a plan to manage waste (e.g. designate one classroom wastebasket for breakfast waste) and devise a plan with custodial staff or student volunteers from study halls to pick up classroom breakfast waste.
    • Service does not need to be high-tech. A simple clipboard can be used to record the meals, and this data can be entered into the school's Point-of-Sale system later.

    Evidence of Success

    Breakfast service has increased from 50 meals per day to over 200. Participation has increased from 15% to over 40%. Revenues have increased by over $46,000 between school year 2010/2011 and school year 2011/2012.

  • Promoting School Meals | Cranberry Area SD

    Description

    The school foodservice director created a ten minute presentation to promote school meals to parents. The presentation informed them about the variety of nutritious foods offered at both breakfast and lunch, with an emphasis on breakfast to encourage increased participation. The presentation was delivered at 7th Grade Orientation and again, later in the fall, at an Open House.

    Parents and students toured the school and visited with teachers. Tables were set up with brochures and other handouts about dietary guidelines, and nutritious food items that the school offers were available for sampling.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Andi Barrett
    Contact Person’s Title: Health and Physical Education Teacher
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 676-8504, ext. 150

    Objective

    • Parents will be able to recognize and prepare a nutritious breakfast.
    • Parents will encourage their children to eat breakfast.
    • Parents and students will learn about dietary guidelines from cafeteria staff.
    • Parents will model healthy behaviors for their children.

    Category

    Gaining Support for School Breakfast Among Various Groups

    Advice

    • Knowledge about the programs results in increased participation.
    • Research the areas in which parents are either not informed or misinformed regarding school meals, and address these issues.
    • Work with the administration to allocate time for a presentation. If time isn’t available, lobby for a table to distribute information. Include plenty of food samples with the information. This will ensure you draw a crowd.
    • Make this information available year-round at the cafeteria.

    Evidence of Success

    • Parents took the handouts.
    • Parents and students returned to the table for more food.
    • Parents asked the foodservice director many questions.
    • Breakfast participation increased.
  • Alternatives All-Around – Universal Free Grab-N-Go Breakfast in the Classroom | Sugar Valley Rural Charter School

    Description

    The K-12 Sugar Valley Rural Charter School was founded in 2000. School lunch was available from the beginning, but the breakfast program only began in 2007. School breakfast was heavily promoted the first year, and it was well-received by the school’s families.

    Breakfast at this school has always been Universal Free because of the rather high free and reduced-price eligibility rate, which is over fifty percent.

    The first two years, breakfast was served and eaten in the cafeteria (multi-purpose room), which is next to the kitchen and between the elementary wing and the middle/secondary wing of the building. All grades, K through 12, ate at the same time because the room had to also be readied in time for first period PE classes.

    Preparing the room for the PE classes right after breakfast eventually became problematic, so Grab-N-Go service to the classrooms was instituted for the third year of the breakfast program. Teachers were reluctant at first, but the CEO was 100 percent behind the FSD’s decision to make this change, and Grab-N-Go breakfast was adopted in all classrooms.

    Students still go to the cafeteria to get their Grab-N-Go breakfasts. All warm foods are wrapped in foil and kept warm in chafing dishes after they've been heated in the oven. Warm cereals are served in foam boxes that can retain heat and hold milk. Coolers keep milk and other cold items ready for students. When students have made their selections they take their breakfasts to their classrooms to eat.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Peggy Barner
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 725-7822, ext. 103

    Objectives

    • To achieve a high participation rate in a breakfast program at a school with a high rate of free and reduced-price eligible students
    • To provide a free meal for the many hungry students who would not otherwise eat breakfast
    • To fit breakfast into the schedule for all grades from K to 12.

    Category

    Implementing Alternative Breakfast Delivery Systems

    Advice

    • Universal Free is wonderful. If your Free and Reduced rate is high, you should do it. It’s an asset that families appreciate.
    • Investigate grant opportunities. The Sugar Valley Rural CS used grants from the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association to purchase equipment that has streamlined operations and encouraged student interest in school breakfast.
    • Work with the staff to generate buy-in. Initially the SVRCS teachers were not supportive of the breakfast program because they erroneously believed that it would decrease teaching time and because they didn’t want to have to clean their classrooms after breakfast. The teachers are now supportive because they have observed that the students are able to learn while eating breakfast, they are more attentive during their lessons, and clean-up is not a problem.
    • Student opinion can also support a change. SVRCS students report a preference for breakfast in the classroom because:
      • The cafeteria was too loud and crowded. Sometimes there were not enough seats for everyone.
      • They can work on homework in the quieter classrooms while they eat their breakfasts.
      • Socializing with friends during breakfast is easier in the classrooms than in the cafeteria.

    Evidence of Success

    • The director has discussed the Universal Free option with other directors, and they wish they could convince their schools to try it.
    • Breakfast participation began high, and it has grown every year. The largest increase was the year that students began to eat in the classrooms. The current (Fall 2010) participation rate is regularly around 75%.
    • Since breakfast began at the school, and especially since the Grab-N-Go in the Classroom system was instituted, there has been a large decrease in the number of student visits to the nurse’s office.
    • Because most students eat breakfast at school, they can eat lunch a little later in the day, and they do not become hungry in the afternoons, which makes the entire school day more productive.
    • The students especially love the warm breakfast foods that are served twice a week from October through March. They want warm foods every day. (The director is developing a plan for this.)
  • Serving Restaurant-Style Breakfast | Elk Lake Elementary School, Elk Lake SD

    Description

    Standard cafeteria-style breakfast service had been in operation, but it became necessary to develop a way to feed the younger students more quickly so they could begin their academics on time. Thus, modifications were made to the cafeteria service so each student could receive and complete breakfast in a more timely fashion.

    Now, the food service staff members prepare student trays in advance and place them on the cafeteria tables each morning. When students arrive at the cafeteria they choose their cold items – milk and fruit – from a cooler, then sit down at the trays to eat. Each tray already contains utensils and other items needed to consume a reimbursable breakfast. Hot items are added to the trays just before the students sit down. Students with special dietary needs are provided personalized trays that accommodate their needs.

    Students return to their classrooms when they have finished eating breakfast, and the cafeteria staff members clean up the trays left behind, as a waiter or waitress would do in a restaurant. Then they prepare for the next round of students.

    Parents send cash and checks to the school to pay on their children’s accounts. When the students arrive at school in the morning, they first go to their classrooms to receive personalized breakfast tickets. Student numbers are printed on the tickets, which are the same kind of tickets that older students use to purchase school meals. To minimize problems with these young students losing tickets, they receive their tickets daily instead of keeping them in their possession as the older students do. The students take the tickets to the cafeteria where they are redeemed to pay for meals.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Marie Moore
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 278-1106, ext. 771

    Objective

    • Streamline breakfast service so students can begin class on time
    • Increase participation by trying something unusual and appealing to the students

    Category

    Implementing Alternative School Breakfast Delivery Systems

    Advice

    • Be open-minded and willing to try something a little different.
    • Convince the cafeteria staff that it will be worth a try.

    Evidence of Success

    • The students like to be “waited on,” as in a restaurant.
    • The system works very well. Cafeteria workers who initially resisted the change do not want to serve breakfast any other way, now.
    • During the first year of operating the new system, participation increased by 50%. (From 24% to 36%.)
  • Teaching Students the "How-To's" of School Breakfast | All Buildings, South Butler County SD

    Description

    South Butler County School District began a breakfast program for the primary school (grades 1-3) in Fall of 2009 and for the intermediate school (grades 4-5) in Winter of 2010. Breakfast service is scheduled to also begin at both the middle school and the high school in Fall of 2010. A unique “Breakfast Taste Test” event was conducted for all students and staff at the primary, intermediate, and middle schools: the students were given a free meal prior to initiation of each building’s new program, and they were familiarized with the foods and procedures of school breakfast.

    The taste test event included a visual display of meal components on sample breakfast trays. These served to show students some of the foods that would be available through the upcoming breakfast program, but they also were used as illustrations of how to be sure to select the components of a reimbursable breakfast.

    The “Breakfast Taste Test” event and the actual breakfast program were promoted not only to students, but to parents, teachers, and other staff. Letters went home to parents explaining the breakfast program. Parents were informed that all students qualify for the program, whether they are full-price, reduced, or free students.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Uber Adams
    Contact Person’s Title: Administrative Liaison to Food Service
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 352-1700, x1505

    Objectives

    • To promote each building’s new breakfast program
    • To inform students about the choices they will be offered at breakfast
    • To educate students about breakfast procedures
    • To demonstrate how to select food items that will constitute a reimbursable meal

    Category

    Gaining Support for School Breakfast Among Various Groups

    Advice

    • Meet with teachers and other staff to reduce skepticism. The tasting event helped to get them involved, and after that they wanted to help with the program.
    • Try to conduct the promotional event on a day near the start of the actual breakfast program. If the idea is still fresh, students will be more likely to participate when the program begins.

    Evidence of Success

    • Results of a small survey after one of the promotional events indicated that students enjoyed and learned from the activities.
    • Participation rate is around 25-30% so far.
    • There have been fewer bus problems and fewer trips to the principal’s office in the morning.
  • Inviting Parents to School Breakfast | All Elementary Buildings, Wyoming Area SD

    Description

    Wyoming Area School District promoted breakfast at all of its elementary schools by inviting the parents to eat breakfast with their children. The Parent-Teacher Organization assisted in the promotion of this “Bring Your Parents to Breakfast” campaign

    Each school invited parents to attend on either or both of two, 45-minute “parent breakfast” days. Pre-school aged siblings were welcomed, which helped to encourage parent participation.

    Many students brought both parents along for the breakfast events. Many of the students who participated in this event were new to the breakfast program.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Janet Whipple
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 655-2836

    Objectives

    • To increase parent awareness of the school breakfast program
    • To demonstrate that it is an easy, economical, and convenient alternative to breakfast at home
    • To combat the stigma of eating breakfast at school
    • To increase overall breakfast participation

    Category

    Gaining Support for School Breakfast among Various Groups

    Advice

    • Take reservations. This will ensure that the correct amount of food will be prepared and prepayment for the adult and preschool meals will allow the line to move quickly.
    • Tickets can be given at the door so that less time will be required at the cash register and more time can be spent with the children.

    Evidence of Success

    • Parents readily accepted this as a fun, quick, before-work social event.
    • During the entire school year before this promotion, 8,807 full-priced breakfasts were sold. During the first year of this promotion, 14,802 full-priced breakfasts were sold. This is an increase of 68%.
    • During the same time frame, total elementary breakfast meals (full-paid, reduced-price, and free) served increased from 28,574 to 44,328. This is an increase of 55%.
    • There were 489 participants in the first year’s “Bring Your Parents to Breakfast” campaign.  Second year participation increased to 1,384 participants. This is an increase of 183%.
  • Transforming the School Library into a Café | Wilson School District

    Description

    The librarian wanted a cafe in the high school library, and the foodservice director wanted to start a breakfast program for the building. The foodservice director did not want the cafe’s sales to compete with foodservice department sales, so they worked together to create a reimbursable breakfast service through the library’s cafe. A section of the library was transformed into “The Bulldog Café” which serves breakfast from 7:15 a.m. through the end of third period (10 a.m.) every day.

    Supplies for the setup came from several sources. The librarian obtained the sofas and the high-rise tables and chairs for the cafe seating area. The maintenance department installed  countertops over base storage cabinets, and these units are used to establish the boundaries of the cafe area within the library. The foodservice director used Dairy Association grant funds to purchase warming, cooling, and display equipment for the operation, and the Dairy Association had a nice “Bulldog Cafe” sign designed and built for the site.

    Carpeting that ran throughout the library was removed from the cafe area to facilitate cleanup. Now, food must remain in the cafe area, but students are allowed to take drinks throughout the library as long as spills do not become a persistent problem.

    All foods offered through the Bulldog Cafe are Grab-N-Go style. Hot items are prepared in the kitchen and transported to the library in insulated carriers. Cold items get to the library in iced coolers, and then they are displayed a few at a time in decorative tubs filled with ice.

    Breakfast is not served anywhere else in the building, not even in the cafeteria. Students are allowed to visit the library to get breakfast during study halls before 10 a.m. They may eat their food in the cafe, or they may take it back to their classrooms to eat it there.

    A finger scan POS system is used.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Peggy Umbenhauer
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Coordinator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 670-0180, x1147

    Objectives

    • To start a breakfast program in the high school
    • To appeal to high school-aged students and to attract them to the library by transforming an area of the library into a café-like setting, as one would find in an upscale bookstore
    • To offer an alternative breakfast delivery system that would enable students to eat breakfast throughout the morning as well as before school.

    Category

    Implementing Alternative School Breakfast Delivery Systems

    Advice

    • Creative problem-solving can produce good results.
    • Collaboration with an unlikely ally can be successful.
    • Find out what the students want, provide it, and promote the change.

    Evidence of Success

    • Breakfast participation increased every month during the first year of operation.
  • Expanding Breakfast with Hot Items | Northumberland Christian School

    Description

    Northumberland Christian School started a breakfast program in 2008. There was a strong start, but they were serving only cold breakfast items, and monthly sales soon began to decline. But the situation was turned around with a small investment in a countertop warmer and some promotional activities. The school's kitchen staff began to cook hot foods for breakfast. They effectively promoted the change, and participation increased dramatically.

    With the addition of a warmer for the new hot foods, it is now possible to keep whole grain waffles and pancakes warm until students serve themselves. Breakfast pizza with whole grain crust is also now available. Bagels can be served warm, now, too. Students tend to enjoy (and often prefer) warm breakfast foods, so participation rose again with their addition to the menu.

    Celebration of National School Breakfast Week provided an opportunity to promote the hot foods along with breakfast in general. Every student was given a free breakfast one day during the promotion week, when breakfast posters and banners were displayed throughout the school. Students who participated in the free breakfast filled out a survey, the results of which were then used by the foodservice director to further enhance and promote the program.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Beverly Reich
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 473-9786

    Objective

    To increase breakfast participation by introducing hot food items

    Category

    Improving the Nutritional Quality of School Breakfast Foods Offered

    Advice

    • Offer breakfast foods that are tasty, appealing-looking, and nutritious.
    • Promote changes with letters home to parents, signage, and nutrition education relating to breakfast.
    • Increasing breakfast participation can generate an increase in lunch participation.

    Evidence of Success

    • Average monthly breakfast participation increased by over 450% and remained high after the promotion, with the greatest increase in the free and reduced-price categories.
    • Lunch participation has increased, as well.
    • Staff members are now participating in breakfast.
    • Enough interest was generated in breakfast that parents whose children receive free lunch called to ask if their children could also receive free breakfast (and of course, they can).
  • Twin Valley SD Enjoys High Breakfast Participation at the HS Level

    Description

    Increasing school breakfast participation at the high school level can be a struggle for a variety of reasons. High schoolers may prefer to sleep as long as possible and not get to school in time for breakfast. Others may not be hungry first thing in the morning or would prefer to socialize with friends than go to the cafeteria for breakfast. Twin Valley School District has been successful at increasing breakfast participation in their high school with some fundamental yet subtle changes.

    Food Service Director Steve Amore brought his extensive experience in food service in higher education and hotel and restaurant management to his position at Twin Valley. In an effort to increase participation he said that he tried to make some fundamental changes to the program to be more approachable and appealing to the students. Part of this cultural change included an open door policy for the cafeteria. Recognizing how discouraging it can be for a student to try to enter a cafeteria and find that the doors are locked, Steve has extended the availability of breakfast at the high school to be open a little earlier and stay open after the school bell rings to be more accommodating to students, in particular to those who may trickle in a little late for a variety of reasons. Making that extra effort to accommodate students shows them that they are valued customers.

    One recognizable change to the program was the addition of a "Build Your Own Parfait" station which is open on Fridays. This station, which allows students to customize a healthy breakfast option, includes high-quality ingredients like yogurt, granola, almonds, dried fruit, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, when they’re in season. While some of the items may be a little expensive, the popularity of the station and the increase in participation that it generates makes it cost-effective.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Steve Amore
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Operations and Food Services
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 286-8600 Ext. 1649

    Advice

    • Food quality drives sales. Focus on food productivity as this will minimize waste, keep costs down,
      and allow for higher quality products to be served.
    • Positive customer service is critical. Staff should be friendly, approachable, and welcoming.
      Don’t let hospitality get lost amidst all of the requirements of the program.
    • Try to keep program fresh and vibrant.
    • When instituting an “open door” policy for the cafeteria, school principal support is paramount.
    • Having staff who put care and attention into the food preparation and presentation can go
      a long way in influencing students’ meal choices.

    Evidence of Success

    • Breakfast participation in the high school has grown by about 50 breakfasts per day over the last 5 years.
      In addition, feedback from students about the program is very positive.
  • Customized Service Methods Allow Breakfast Participation to Soar at Albert Gallatin Schools

    Description

    In the 2018-2019 academic year, many schools in the Albert Gallatin School District took advantage of mini-grants offered by the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative. Friendship Elementary began a “Last Chance” breakfast program in which students who did not participate in the traditional breakfast service before school were allowed to leave class at the beginning of first period to pick up a pre-packed breakfast and bring it back to the classroom. A similar concept was implemented at North and South Middle Schools as students who were not able to attend the traditional breakfast or were not hungry prior to the start of school were allowed to head to the cafeteria between class periods. Students proceeded down a line and put various grab-n-go items in their bag as they went, before returning to the classroom. Meanwhile, through conversations with students at Albert Gallatin High School, it was determined that congestion in the cafeteria was a major issue. Many students were not eating breakfast because they felt the area was too crowded. Therefore, a third breakfast line with a breakfast cart was added to the traditional breakfast service where students could pick up grab-n-go items in the foyer of the school and then head to their classrooms. Overall, these individualized programs help fit and build a specific culture in the schools. At the elementary and middle schools that held a “Last Chance” breakfast program, while students were monitored by teachers and security personnel in the hallway to ensure that all students were safely returned to class, many enjoyed the perceived freedom of leaving class to get breakfast. It soon became a popular activity for students. Moreover, the high school has more of a fast-paced culture and therefore the grab-n-go aspect of breakfast made it much easier to fit into students’ daily routines.

    A major part of the success was explaining the benefits of students eating breakfast such as increased attentiveness and reduced disruptions to teachers, lunch staff, and custodians. While scheduling was a bit of an issue, this strategy resulted in a great deal of faculty and staff buy-in. The nursing staff was also a major supporter of students participating in breakfast as it seemed to reduce the number of students coming to the nurse’s office with an upset stomach. Another factor credited for the success of the program was the later start time at the elementary school and middle schools. Often students come into school tired and not ready to eat or socialize. Students seem to be more interested in interacting with peers slightly later in the day and this social interaction is a major promoter of participation in the breakfast program. Overall, by responding to the needs of students and collaborating with faculty and staff, the food services department at Albert Gallatin was able to achieve great increases in school breakfast participation. .

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Troy Golden
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 564-7190 Ext: 8123

    Advice

    • Facilitate buy-in. After gaining a full understanding of the program and your goals, present it to administration and support will trickle down.
    • Keep it simple. Your service and menu do not have to be elaborate as long you are feeding students.

    Evidence of Success

    • Prior to implementation of the alternative breakfast service methods, participation in school breakfast ranged from 26-46% across the seven schools. This increased to 31-69% following implementation.
  • Varying Delivery Systems According to Building Needs | Millersburg Middle/High School and Lenkerville Elementary School, Millersburg ASD

    Description

    Prior to the 2008-2009 school year, the Millersburg Area SD served breakfast only on PSSA test days. Realizing that daily breakfast could improve academic performance throughout the year, and with an elementary free and reduced rate of about 31%, it was decided to start a district-wide school breakfast program in 2009. Before implementing their program, administrators consulted with Breakfast Brigade members David Lloyd and Carol Gilbert.

    Because of scheduling issues and a small cafeteria which would not accommodate all students, David Lloyd suggested that breakfast in the classroom would be a good format for the Lenkerville Elementary School. Supplies were purchased for cooling and transporting the meals.

    With consideration for scheduling issues, Carol Gilbert provided guidance toward choosing the Grab-N-Go format in the secondary building. Both hot and cold breakfast foods have been made available through the school’s cafeteria, where a student can gather components of a reimbursable meal before the bell rings.

    Adjustments have been made to increase participation at the secondary building. Middle school students were eventually directed to the cafeteria to await the start of homeroom, and a successful breakfast promotion consisting of a drawing for prizes was conducted. There is also the possibility of using the cafeteria as the location for high school homeroom, which might soon become a reality, too.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Gina Engle
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 692-2109,x323

    Objectives

    • To implement a district-wide breakfast program
    • To optimize student participation by tailoring each delivery system to the ages of the students and to the existing structure of the building environment

    Category

    Implementing Alternative School Breakfast Delivery Systems

    Advice

    • Try to observe a successful program of the type you plan to implement, and take principals and/or other administrators along to the site to enlist their support.
    • Having a plan in place enabled smooth implementation. At first, there were concerns with trash and disruptions, but these concerns were addressed and handled within the first few days.
    • Continue to offer new items to the students.

    Evidence of Success

    • Breakfast participation is at about 40%.
    • There has been a decrease in the number of hungry students visiting the nurse’s office and a decrease in classroom disruptions.
  • Adding Grab-N-Go to Increase Participation | Karns City HS, Karns City Area SD

    Description

    Karns City Area School District has added a Grab-N-Go style breakfast for the senior high students who are too busy with morning meetings to participate in the traditional, cafeteria-based breakfast program. Pre-packaged meals are now delivered to the senior high wing where students can purchase breakfast and take it to their homerooms or morning clubs and meetings.

    The use of clam-shell packaging to contain entire reimbursable breakfasts was instituted, and a cart was purchased to transport the food.

    Promotion of the program was achieved through posters in the cafeteria as well as in the senior wing. Reminders were incorporated into the morning public address system announcements, and teachers included reminders in their announcements.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Sandra Traister
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 756-2030, x1015

    Objective

    To increase the high school breakfast participation rate to at least 20%

    Category

    Maintaining a Successful School Breakfast Program at the High School Level

    Advice

    • Faculty and administration need to be supportive of students eating in instructional and meeting areas.
    • Cafeteria staff members need to adapt to serving both the Grab-N-Go and traditional-style breakfasts.

    Evidence of Success

    • The Karns City High School breakfast participation rate increased to 20%.
  • Serving Breakfast in the Hallway to Increase Participation | Forest City HS, Forest City Regional SD

    Description

    Forest City Regional School District was close to achieving a 20% breakfast participation rate which would allow them to receive a higher lunch reimbursement rate. Seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students waited for homeroom in the cafeteria, where they could get breakfast. However, the tenth through twelfth graders who waited in the gym did not want to leave their friends to go to the cafeteria for breakfast. To attract the additional students needed to achieve the 20% goal, breakfast was made available in the hallway outside of the gym for these older students.

    “Breakfast in the Hallway” has been made possible by the purchase of a warmer-cart that delivers hot breakfast items to the gym hallway. A cooler for milk and juice is also utilized. After students make their breakfast selections from this daily setup they can go to the gym to eat, or they can sit at tables in the hallway which are specifically provided for this purpose.

    Breakfast continues to be offered for the younger students while they wait in the cafeteria, but the older students prefer to eat in the coffee shop-style atmosphere created by the tables in the hallway by the gym.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Mary Lee Martines
    Contact Person’s Title: Cafeteria Manager
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 785-2412

    Objectives

    • To increase breakfast participation by taking food to the students instead of requiring them to get it at the cafeteria
    • To receive higher reimbursement for lunches served by achieving a 20% participation rate for breakfast

    Category

    Maintaining a Successful School Breakfast Program at the High School Level

    Advice

    • An alternative delivery system can be well worth the try, but be willing to be flexible to suit the needs and the boundaries of the situation.
    • This worked in part due to the support of school administration and faculty, especially teachers who are stationed in the gym in the morning.

    Evidence of Success

    • The 20% participation goal was reached, and participation has remained above this figure.
    • There has been much positive feedback about this system, especially from teachers on morning bus duty.
    • The “hallway” students have been well-behaved, and they have requested more tables!
  • Clearfield Alliance Christian School Personalized Breakfast Model Allows for Success in First Year

    Description

    Clearfield Alliance Christian School just became a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school for 2018-2019 school year, meaning that all students are able to receive breakfast and lunch at school free-of-charge. Prior to this time, the school’s only meal service was lunch. Therefore, Clearfield saw a need to start a school breakfast program. To implement this new program, Clearfield Alliance Christian School applied for a mini-grant through the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative which was designed to help schools create or expand alternative breakfast service models.

    Clearfield Alliance implemented 3 different service methods for different age groups in order to best meet their specific needs. In kindergarten, students received breakfast through the traditional cafeteria service before the start of the school day. This was an optimal strategy as it limited the mess in the classroom and fit into the school’s schedule because the kindergarten class starts 45 minutes later than the rest of the school, allowing time and space for breakfast to occur in the cafeteria. Grades 1-6 received breakfast in the classroom at the start of the school day. Work hours were increased for the two part-time cafeteria workers who prepared shelf-stable items on a cart the day before and students transported carts and cooler to the classroom in the morning. Older students also helped younger students open packaging. These activities not only reduced the burden on teachers but also increased students’ sense of self-sufficiency. Funds were used from the mini-grant to purchase carts, rolling coolers, reusable ice, insulated bags, and large garbage cans that allowed the program to be a success. Grades 7-12 participated in a Grab-n-Go program before the start of the school day that utilized a service cart purchased with mini-grant funds. With the Grab-n-Go program, despite the demands of their schedule, students were able to quickly pick up breakfast on their way to class.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Christi Manno
    Contact Person’s Title: Administrative Assistant
    Email:
    Contact Person’s Phone Number:

    Advice

    • Allow students to grab a brown bag and pack their own breakfast by selecting food items from the cafeteria line on their way to the bus on field trip days.
    • Try to fit breakfast into the existing school schedule.

    Evidence of Success

    • Clearfield Alliance Christian School served 13,973 reimbursable breakfasts in the 2018-2019 school year.
    • 83% of students in kindergarten participated in the traditional breakfast service that was offered to them.
    • 87% of students in grades 1-6 participated in the Breakfast in the Classroom program that was offered to them.
    • 60% of students in grades 7-12 participated in the Grab-n-Go program that was offered to them.
    •  
  • Community Academy of Philadelphia Ensures All Students Have Opportunity to Eat Breakfast with Multiple Service Methods

    Description

    The Community Academy of Philadelphia is K-12 charter school in an area of Philadelphia where many of the 1,225 students are of lower socioeconomic status. Prior to the 2018-2019 academic year, the school offered a traditional breakfast program in the cafeteria prior to the start of the school day. However, despite being a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school, only 20%-30% of students participated in the program due to their staggered arrival. Many students took schools buses, others took public transportation, some walked to school, and others were dropped off by parents. This resulted in many being late to breakfast or late to school which did not leave time to participate in the existing breakfast program. Therefore, when there was an opportunity to receive a mini-grant through the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative, the administration, food service management company, food service director, and deputy CEO were all onboard to create novel service methods that might increase student participation in school breakfast. With these funds, the Community Academy of Philadelphia was able to purchase insulated cooler bags, trashcans, and utility carts to begin a Breakfast in the Classroom program as well as 2 laptops, scanners, and carts to begin a Grab-n-Go program.

    After completing civil rights training and reviewing policies on the components of an approved breakfast with staff and teachers, Breakfast in the Classroom was instituted in February 2018 as well as Grab-n-Go in September 2018. Insulated cooler bags, containing breakfast items and rosters for accountability, were delivered to classrooms each morning at 7:30AM and were picked up an hour later by food service staff. This allowed students who arrived during this timeframe an opportunity to eat breakfast, making the Breakfast in the Classroom model particularly successful. The Grab-n-Go option allowed additional tardy students to participate in school breakfast as they could pick it up at the school entrance on their way in regardless of arrival time.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Patrick McGovern
    Contact Person’s Title: Assistant Operations Manager and NSLP Coordinator
    Email:
    Contact Person’s Phone Number:

    Advice

    • Consistently evaluate the efficacy of the program through student, staff, and parent survey and maintain open communication with these stakeholders.
    • Maintain up-to-date records including rosters and food allergies and provide food service staff with this information.

    Evidence of Success

    • Breakfast participation increased from 20%-30% in the 2017-2018 school year to 70%-80% in the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Grab-n-Go Model Allows Breakfast to Fit Student Schedules at Ferndale High School

    Description

    Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, students in grades 7-12 at Ferndale High School participated in a traditional breakfast program. Under this model, students would go to the cafeteria upon their arrival at school, prior to the start of classes. However, only approximately 30 of 254 students participated in this program daily. A student survey revealed that many students felt that they did not have enough time to eat breakfast in the time between arriving at school and the start of homeroom. The survey also indicated that over 80% of students would be interested in eating breakfast if there were a ‘Grab-n-Go’ option. Therefore, the Ferndale Area School District applied for a mini-grant through the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative, a program designed to help schools create or expand alternative breakfast service models.

    With the mini-grant funds, Ferndale High School was able to implement a ‘Grab-n-Go’ model where students have the option to sign out of homeroom to go to the cafeteria to pick up breakfast. In this way students did not have to arrive at school early to participate in breakfast and obtaining food better fit into their existing schedule. The program allows for a great deal of student autonomy as students still had the option to participate in the traditional breakfast program before the start of school, pick up a to-go breakfast and attend homeroom activities, or stay in the cafeteria if they did not have any activities to attend during homeroom.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Lori McGough
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Direct of Ferndale Area School District
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814)288-5757 Ext: 230

    Advice

    • Choose a breakfast model that fits into the existing school/student schedule.
    • Implement incentives to motivate students to participate in breakfast.
    • Collaborate with teachers and administrators and gain their support.

    Evidence of Success

    • Participation in the school breakfast program increased from 11% in the 2017-2018 school year to 54% in the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Hereford Elementary Builds Culture around Breakfast with Grab-n-Go Program

    Description

    Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, Hereford Elementary did not have much of a culture around breakfast. While there were certainly some students who participated in the traditional breakfast program, there was not much interest. Therefore, utilizing mini-grant funds from the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative, the school introduced a Grab-n-Go program for the 2018-2019 school year in which students pick up their breakfast in the cafeteria on their way into school in the morning. As they go down the line, they pick up a main breakfast item such as cereal or a strudel and then can choose their own fruit, juice, and milk and place them in a decorative translucent bag which they then bring it to the classroom. When the students have an opportunity to eat in the classroom, they have more time to enjoy their breakfast, supervision is ensured, and any mess is in a contained environment.

    The breakfast problem enjoyed a great deal of success due to the impact of advertising. Flyers were sent home before the start of the academic year and special events were held throughout the year such as theme days or having breakfast with the principal. Moreover, the Hereford Elementary food service department held focus groups with students throughout the year to determine which breakfast items were most favorable and designed the menu based on this feedback. Through this advertising, offering fresh and innovative breakfast items, and positive and encouraging communication between students and faculty/staff members, a culture was built around grabbing breakfast in the morning and it soon became a popular activity.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Paula Germinario
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Services Director - Upper Perkiomen School District
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 541-2445

    Advice

    • While it can seem daunting to start a new breakfast model, jump in and try it! It is important to remember that is a learning process and you can make changes along the way.
    • Utilize your network and the internet to learn from the experiences of other food service directors and schools.

    Evidence of Success

    • Average daily participation in school breakfast in school year 2017/18 was about 10%. This increased to approximately 17% in school year 2018/19 after implementation of the Grab-n-Go program.
  • North Clarion Community Makes Breakfast in the Classroom a Success for Kindergarteners

    Description

    At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, North Clarion Elementary School implemented a Breakfast in the Classroom program for their kindergarten classes. Aides in the classroom were trained on the components of a reimbursable meal to help distribute the food to students. It was found in the past that it could be overwhelming for kindergartners, who were new to school overall, to go to a crowded cafeteria and wait in line to receive breakfast. Under the Breakfast in the Classroom program, the food was much more readily accessible to students in a more comfortable location. Students in the higher grades still participated in a traditional breakfast program but this year the options in terms of food items were greatly expanded. The menus were adjusted throughout the year based on student preference as well.

    A sense of community was built around the breakfast program and played a large role in its success. Many of the administrators, teachers, cafeteria and custodial staff have family members that are students at the school and there was a desire among them to ameliorate the program in order to help out not only their own families but other families as well. Even if students came to school late, an effort was always made to provide them with breakfast before they head off to class in order to start their day in a positive way. In addition, letters were sent home to students’ families at the beginning of the school year to not only inform parents/guardians of the existence of the program but also served to gain interest in and support for the program. Overall, through this collaboration, a community and a positive culture was built around breakfast at North Clarion Elementary School.

    Based on the success of this year’s program, the Breakfast in the Classroom program for kindergarteners and the expanded traditional breakfast for older students will continue in the coming academic year. Moreover, for students who will be participating in traditional breakfast, the cafeteria has been redesigned to allow for better equipment and a more streamlined queuing system such that students can get through the line more quickly and have enough time to enjoy their breakfast before heading to class.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: David Reitz
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Services Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814)275-2424 Ext: 235

    Advice

    • Think outside of the box to make it happen such as involving teachers and aides in the breakfast program.
    • Make breakfast a positive experience. Offer enough choices such that all students can find something they like but don’t be afraid to stick with what works.

    Evidence of Success

    • In a school of 300 students, over 100 meals are served at breakfast each day.
    • Teachers noticed an increase in students’ attentiveness and a reduction in behavioral issues.
  • North Penn Schools Increase Breakfast Participation with Mobile Service Carts

    Description

    Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, North Penn High School and Penndale Middle School offered a traditional breakfast program in the cafeteria prior to the start of the school day. Students ate breakfast in the cafeteria or carried it with them to class. School breakfast staff found that many students were not participating in breakfast because of the physical distance between their classrooms and the cafeteria, with some students having to walk for as many as twenty minutes from the cafeteria to their first class. There was also a lack of awareness of breakfast availability at school with a prevalent assumption that school breakfast offerings were only available for those students who qualified for free/reduced meals. Therefore, the North Penn School District applied for and received two mini-grants through the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative (designed to help schools create or expand alternative breakfast service models) in the amount of $5,000 each to put toward the purchase of a mobile breakfast cart for each school.

    Through collaboration with administration, cafeteria staff, and the American Dairy Association North East, a different cart was chosen for each school to meet the specific needs of the school, its design, and students. The carts were positioned at the entrance of each school and opened a bit earlier than the cafeteria to make breakfast more accessible as students arrived at school. A barcode scanner was also implemented that allowed students to scan their ID instead of typing in a PIN number. This allowed for a more efficient purchasing process and cut down on wait times, allowing students to get to class more expeditiously. Through student survey it was identified that grab-n-go items were desired; therefore, foods such as granola bars and parfaits were added to increase student interest in eating breakfast from the cart. The food service staff, administration, and teachers all worked together, utilizing announcements, flyers, posters, and school TV advertisements, to help make students aware of the cart’s presence and offerings.

    Contact Person: Melissa Froehlich
    Contact Person’s Title: Coordinator of School Nutrition Services
    Email:
    Contact Person’s Phone Number:

    Advice

    • Get teachers, administrators, and food service staff involved; their support can greatly increase the success of a novel breakfast service method.
    • Obtain student feedback about breakfast habits and what offerings they would like to see.
    • Provide food offerings that students are interested in.

    Evidence of Success

    • School breakfast participation at North Penn High School increased from 11% in the year prior to implementation to 15% in the year of implementation. Approximately 200 more students participated in school breakfast each day.
    • School breakfast participation at Penndale Middle School increased from 10% in the year prior to implementation to 13% in the year of implementation. Approximately 50-75 more students participated in school breakfast each day.
    • Teachers, administrators, and nursing staff at Penndale Middle School reported an increase in attentiveness and healthy eating with a simultaneous decrease in stigma surrounding school breakfast and stomachaches/headaches.
  • Innovation and Efficiency are Key to Increased Breakfast Participation at West Middlesex Elementary

    Description

    Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, many students at West Middlesex Elementary School were not participating in the traditional school breakfast program as they felt that they did not have enough time to move through the cafeteria line and then eat breakfast before heading to class. Therefore, with mini-grant funds from the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative, a new line was added to the elementary school cafeteria. In a two-line system, students in kindergarten through second grade queued on one side while students in third through sixth grades formed another line. This allowed students, especially younger students, to feel more comfortable and less rushed in the line as they were among their peers. Moreover, service was eliminated. Students were trained about which items constituted a reimbursable breakfast and they moved down the cafeteria line selecting their own food items in a grab-n-go fashion. While this took a bit of time to establish the routine, within a few months the process was running smoothly and the success ran over into lunch as the procedures for both meals are very similar.

    Each morning students who wish to participate in breakfast are let off of the school buses early and they eat their breakfast in the cafeteria before the start of the school day. In this way, they have enough time to enjoy their breakfast before heading off to class. Teachers supervise students in the cafeteria in the morning. This allows the students to be monitored by someone with whom they have rapport and allows for cafeteria staff to focus on welcoming students, helping them make healthy food choices, and sharing positive messages about breakfast. Additionally, a share table was introduced to encourage students to take the reimbursable breakfast even if there were items that they were not going to eat. By the end of the year, most students were eating the complete breakfast but any items that were placed on the share table were able to be enjoyed by other students.

    The school has also had success experimenting with new breakfast items such as a ‘banana boat,’ a banana with yogurt and berries on top. They have also been reaching out to local vendors to obtain no-cost food products to benefit the program. These new food options have been made possible by individual serving containers that students can easily pick up as they move down the line. With this focus on expediency, innovation, and positive messaging around breakfast, students became excited to go to breakfast and soon began to bring their friends with them, further fueling the success of the program.

    Contact Person: Marie Popatak
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director - West Middlesex Area School District
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 634-3008

    Advice

    • Communicate with students and staff to determine which items are most popular before designing the menu.
    • Apply for grants! The breakfast program was completely changed for the positive by the addition of a second line. Because of the grant, all students now have access to breakfast.

    Evidence of Success

    • After the implementation of the breakfast program, teachers noticed that students were less tired in class, had fewer behavior problems, and are more attentive.
    • Students more frequently take and eat fresh fruit due to innovative serving methods.
  • Claysburg-Kimmel School District Makes School Breakfast Appealing for High Schoolers

    Description

    Claysburg-Kimmel is a small school district with an enrollment of about 800 in two school buildings and a free/reduced eligibility of about 60%. While school breakfast participation in the elementary school had always been strong, participation lagged at the high school level because of logistical issues and lack of interest among the students. Recognizing the need to increase participation at the high school the district applied for and received a PDE school breakfast mini-grant to purchase a cart to provide a “Grab ‘n Go” breakfast option while still maintaining the traditional cafeteria line.

    In order to appeal to high school students, they tried to make the cart area attractive by hanging posters, bringing in bar stools, and installing charging stations that students could use to charge their school-issued iPads. They were also careful to pick a staff member with a friendly and inviting personality to manage the cart. In addition, they extended the time the cart was open so that students who did not get breakfast before their homeroom period could get a pass in their homerooms and to get breakfast from the cart or stop between classes.

    Contact Person: Michelle Smithmyer
    Contact Person’s Title: Business Manager
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 239-5141 Ext. 354

    Advice

    • Buy-in from administrators and teachers is cited as keys to success. When the cart was introduced, teachers were given coupons to encourage them to try the new breakfast bar and teachers often encourage students to use this new option for breakfast.
    • Make the area appealing to students and an area where they will want to spend time.

    Evidence of Success

    • Claysburg-Kimmel reported a 50% increase in breakfast participation at the high school after introduction of the Grab ‘n Go option.
  • Shanksville-Stonycreek School District Expands Grab ‘n Go to Elementary Students

    Description

    Shanksville-Stonycreek saw the success of their Grab ‘n Go breakfast program at the middle school/high school level and decided to expand it to the elementary school. Through a PDE school breakfast grant they were able to purchase a mobile cart, a computer for a Point-of-Sale station, and other supplies. They stationed the cart at the end of an elementary hallway. As students entered the building they were directed to go to their classrooms first to unload everything. After doing so, their hands were free and they could go to the cart, pick up breakfast, and bring it back to the classrooms.

    At first there was some concern about mess that could be generated with the Grab ‘n Go program. They had experienced little of this with the middle and high school students, but recognized that this could be a bigger challenge with younger students. Simply placing an extra trash can in the hallway so trash was deposited outside of the classrooms alleviated that concern.

    For the first few weeks of the program, teachers received complimentary breakfasts. This helped to gain teacher buy-in for the program and allowed them to actively participate in the program in the classrooms with their students.

    Advice

    • Trends show that kids are not used to a hot breakfast on a plate. They are more accustomed to pre-packaged, grab ‘n go items like those found in convenience stores. Grab ‘n Go school breakfast aligns with the type of service and breakfast items with which students are comfortable and familiar. Pre-packaged items should be in clear packaging so student can see what they are getting. When they wrapped an item in tin foil, participation was low because students could not see what they were getting.

    Evidence of Success

    • Shanksville-Stonycreek is a small district with only about 330 students. Prior to the initiation of the Grab ‘n Go systems, only about 20 students participated in school breakfast on a regular basis. With the expansion of the program into the elementary school, participation increased throughout the year with an average of about 80 students participating daily. Several days saw participation numbers reach 100.
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