The Total Child

Do you want to offer school meals at no cost to all students?

(Alternative School Breakfast , National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Guest Post by Alison Maurice, MSW, child nutrition policy analyst at the Food Research & Action Center.

FRAC will co-host a webinar with AASA and the National Rural Education Association on May 8th at 1pm EST on the Community Eligibility Provision. Learn more and Register.  
 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision is a powerful tool for high-need schools to provide breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students. Community eligibility reduces administrative paperwork for schools and increases school meal participation and benefits the entire community —students, families, school nutrition staff and administrators.

Why should I consider community eligibility for my school district? 

 FRACCEPPhoto

 Educators know that in order for children to learn, they must be well-nourished. Schools play an important role in ensuring students have access to healthy meals. That is why community eligibility continues to grow in popularity among high-need school districts. Community eligibility has been successful at increasing school breakfast and lunch participation, so more students experience the positive educational outcomes that are linked to participating in school meals. In the current school year, nearly 10 million children in over 20,000 schools and 3,500 school districts are being offered breakfast and lunch at no charge through the community eligibility program.

What are the benefits of community eligibility? 

 School districts participating in community eligibility benefit from: 

  •  less administrative work. School administrators no longer need to collect and verify school meal applications and can focus more resources on providing nutritious meals for students;
  •  increased participation in the school breakfast and lunch programs. In initial pilot states, community eligibility increased breakfast participation by 9.4 percent and increased lunch participation by 5.2 percent;
  •  improved financial viability of school nutrition programs. When community eligibility becomes available at a school, school meal participation increases, which can improve school nutrition finances; and
  •  the elimination of unpaid meal fees. This means schools no longer need to collect money from families or find available funds for the meals that go unpaid by students.

 Additionally, by offering meals at no charge to all students, community eligibility makes it easier for schools to leverage innovative school breakfast service models, such as breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go” breakfast, and second chance breakfast. Traditional school breakfast programs that operate before the school day begins must compete with hectic morning schedules and late bus arrivals. Rather, breakfast after the bell service models integrate breakfast into the school day, allowing more children to start the day ready to learn. 

How does community eligibility work? 

 Community eligibility allows high-need school districts and schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students, while eliminating the school meal application process. Any school district, group of schools in a district, or individual school with 40 percent or more “identified students” — children who are certified for free meals without submitting a school meal application — can choose to participate in community eligibility.

Identified Students Include:

  • children who live in households that receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and in some states, Medicaid benefits; and
  •  children who are homeless, migrant, enrolled in Head Start, or in foster care.

 How will my schools get reimbursed?

Once a school, group of schools, or school district establishes its identified student percentage (ISP), the ISP is multiplied by 1.6 to determine the percentage of meals reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate (capped at 100 percent). The remainder is reimbursed at the paid rate. This percentage is locked in for four years, unless the ISP goes up, in which case it would be adjusted to reflect the increase. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a “Community Eligibility Provision Estimator ” tool to help school districts determine if community eligibility makes financial sense. There is a lot of flexibility in how schools are grouped to determine the ISP, allowing districts to group schools to ensure financial viability.

 

Identified Student Percentage (ISP)

Meals Reimbursed at the Free Rate

Meals Reimbursed at the Paid Rate

40%

64%

36%

45%

72%

28%

50%

80%

20%

55%

88%

12%

60%

96%

4%

65%

100%

0%


 What can I do right now?

 Start planning for the 2017–2018 school year today. Find out which school districts and schools in your state have implemented community eligibility or were eligible during the 2016–2017 school year using FRAC’s Community Eligibility Database .

 Check out these resources to learn more about community eligibility:

 By adopting community eligibility, you can increase participation in school breakfast and lunch, ensuring your students the nutrition needed to succeed in school.

 Is there a deadline for my school district to apply for community eligibility?

On May 1, 2017, your state’s education agencies will publish a list of schools and school districts that qualify for community eligibility. Review the list to see which of your schools qualify for the 2017–2018 school year.

The deadline to apply to use community eligibility in the 2017–2018 school year is June 30, 2017.

 For more information on community eligibility, reach out to Alison Maurice , child nutrition policy analyst at the Food Research & Action Center .

Celebrating National School Breakfast Week 2017

(Alternative School Breakfast , National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Since 2011, AASA has engaged 22 school districts in the Alternative School Breakfast Initiative, supported by the Walmart Foundation. This program increases the number of children who eat school breakfast, by taking breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom and hallways through Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab ‘n’ Go, and Second Chance options.

These participating districts held activities over National School Breakfast Week, from March 6-10, to raise awareness of their school breakfast programs. Here are some shining examples:

School Administrators and Parents Engage in Meriden Public Schools

 MeridenAdminsNSBW2017

Meriden Public Schools hosted two elementary student and parent " School Breakfast Superhero" themed breakfast events, organized by their FoodCorp service member Lexi Brenner, during National School Breakfast Week to educate parents and students on the benefits of school breakfast and increase breakfast participation.

School and District Administrators, including Superintendent Dr. Mark D. Benigni , showed their support of school breakfast and were in attendance.

SuptMeridenSuptNBSW2017
Superintendent Dr. Mark D. Benigni, Meriden Public Schools, at a taste test activity.

The district’s three Registered Dietitians answered general health and nutrition questions and interacted with students and families. SNAP outreach efforts to increase CEP eligibility for more Meriden schools was also conducted. Students participated in the School Breakfast Week Challenge, tracking the amount of times they eat school breakfast with materials provided by the School Nutrition Association. Fun breakfast prizes were provided to each student daily when they ate breakfast during the week, in addition to breakfast "Lucky Tray" giveaways!

 Promotional Contests Popular Among Students in Two Large, Urban Districts 

San Diego Unified School District 

 SanDiegoNSBWmovieposter

San Diego had 12 of their  elementary schools participating in National School Breakfast Week promotion. Every student who ate breakfast every day of that week was entered into a drawing for a pair of movie tickets.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Spring Independent School District

Spring ISD continued their “Decorate Your Plate” promotion of National School Breakfast Week, which has become a hit in the district! Students decorate paper plates with their favorite breakfast foods and submit them for a chance to win a bike and helmet. The principals at each school select a winner. Below are a few of the student plates.

springisdnsbw2017pic1 springisdnsbw2017pic2

AASA Alternative School Breakfast Initiative districts lead New York State in breakfast participation

(Alternative School Breakfast) Permanent link

This guest post was written by Jessica Pino-Goodspeed, Child Nutrition Programs Specialist, Hunger Solutions New York.

 March2017HungerSolutionsReport

 It’s National School Breakfast week, and each year, Hunger Solutions New York celebrates the occasion with the release of its statewide report on school breakfast participation. Our latest report, School Breakfast: Reducing Child Hunger, Bolstering Student Success, reveals that the two New York State school districts in AASA’s Alternative School Breakfast Initiative, Hempstead Union Free School District (UFSD) and Newburgh Enlarged City School District, led the state in reaching low- income students with breakfast during the 2015-2016 school year.  

One in five New York State children face hunger every day. Children who arrive at school hungry have their mind on their empty stomach rather than on school work. More than 60 percent of New York State public school students live in households with income below or near the poverty level. Those families depend on free and reduced-price school meals to stretch limited monthly grocery budgets.

School breakfast provides students with a vital nutritional and educational support, during a crucial period of growth, development and learning, but our report shows the School Breakfast Program is greatly underutilized in New York State. While statewide school breakfast participation has increased since the 2014-2015 school year, growth in the number of students qualified to receive free or reduced-price breakfast has offset participation growth. In the 2015-2016 school year, fewer than one in three students who qualified to eat free or reduced-price breakfast participated in the School Breakfast Program.

New York State is among the lowest-performing states in reaching low-income National School Lunch Program participants with the School Breakfast Program. The state was ranked 42nd in the Food Research and Action Center’s School Breakfast Scorecard for the 2015-2016 school year.

With statewide breakfast participation lagging, Hempstead UFSD and Newburgh Enlarged City School District are examples for school breakfast best practices. Both districts have implement alternative school breakfast service models like breakfast in the classroom, grab and go, and second chance options, and provide free breakfast to all students, to optimize breakfast access. Together, Newburgh and Hempstead accounted for a quarter of the statewide growth in School Breakfast Program participation during the 2015-2016 school year, with increases of 67% and 133%, respectively.

 When students do not eat school breakfast, not only do they miss out on learning and health benefits, but also a significant amount of federal funding is left on the table. In the 2015-2016 school year, only 45.88% of free and reduced-price lunch participants also ate school breakfast. This resulted in the forfeiture of more than $71 million in federal reimbursements in that school year alone.

Ensuring New York State’s most vulnerable students have access to school breakfast requires simultaneous efforts at federal, state, and local levels. It is important to recognize that school breakfast can help to remove hunger as an obstacle to learning. When properly leveraged, the School Breakfast Program can be a fundamental building block for student health and academic success. To this end, schools, federal and state agencies, and elected officials should prioritize systemic changes to improve school breakfast participation. The report released today outlines specific methods to achieve that goal.

 Hunger Solutions New York works to ensure every public school student has access to school breakfast. Our organization provides school districts with tools, resources and one-on-one support to help maximize the SBP’s reach and to help ensure every student starts the school day free from hunger, properly nourished and prepared for a day of learning. Learn more at SchoolMealsHubNY.org.

Starting the School Day Ready to Learn with School Breakfast

(Alternative School Breakfast , National Awareness) Permanent link

 CP OTR School Breakfast

  Educators and administrators know how hunger affects children in and out of the classroom. Starting the school day ready to learn — with a healthy school breakfast — is the first step toward academic success. 

 Since 2011, AASA has engaged 22 school districts in the Alternative School Breakfast Initiative, supported by the Walmart Foundation. This program increases the number of children who eat school breakfast, by taking breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom and hallways through Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab ‘n’ Go, and Second Chance options.

AASA is part of the Breakfast for Learning Education Alliance and works with Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), to increase participation in the national School Breakfast Program.

 
According to FRAC, Children who participate in the school breakfast program show improved attendance, behavior, and standardized achievement test scores as well as decreased tardiness and fewer visits to the school nurse .

While there is a clear link between breakfast and learning, FRAC’s new school breakfast reports shine a light on the fact that still too many children are missing out on the benefits of school breakfast. FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard found that only 56 low-income students participated in school breakfast for every 100 who ate school lunch in the 2015—2016 school year. Participation varies by state; for example, schools in West Virginia reach over 80 low-income students with school breakfast for every 100 participating in school lunch, while Utah schools reach less than 40 low-income students.

FRAC’s companion report, School Breakfast: Making it Work in Large School Districts, shows that some school districts across the country are meeting the needs of their low-income students by making breakfast readily accessible.  

The good news is that there are proven strategies to increase school breakfast participation. More schools are adopting breakfast after the bell models where breakfast is served in the classroom, from grab-and-go carts in the hallway on the way to class, or during a morning break after homeroom or first period. Schools that have adopted these models are seeing participation grow as a result.

padilla SGL
Roberto Padilla, Superintendent of Newburgh Enlarged City School District presenting at a conference on his district's Alternative School Breakfast Program.

 

 Two of AASA’s current participating districts, Newburgh Enlarged City School District (NY) and Newark Public Schools (NJ) were featured in this report as one of the few school districts that met the ambitious goal of 70 low-income students participating in the school breakfast program per 100 participating in the lunch program.

  So how can superintendents and administrators ensure that students have the chance to start the day with a healthy breakfast?

 If you are attending the National Conference on Education in New Orleans this March, join AASA Children’s Programs Department  and superintendents  at the "Feeding Hungry Minds: Funding Your School Breakfast Program" panel  to discuss strategies and learn how your district can become involved. The panel will take place on Thursday March 2nd at 2:45 pm in Room 211, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. 

When you're back in your district:

  •  Ask your school nutrition director for breakfast participation rates for all the schools in the district and provide this information to principals;
  •  Work with your school nutrition director, principals, and school board to develop a plan to implement breakfast in the classroom;
  •  Provide leadership to guide the process of implementing breakfast in the classroom and ensure all the necessary stakeholders—school nutrition staff, principals, teachers, and custodial staff—are on board and engaged; and
  •  Check FRAC’s database of schools eligible to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision, and discuss how to implement in eligible schools with your school nutrition director.

You also can sign up for FRAC’s monthly newsletter, Meals Matter: School Breakfast, to get further information and resources on school breakfast. Together, we can ensure every student starts their day ready to learn.

See AASA Children’s Programs Department’s School Breakfast webpage and resource library for more information about this initiative. http://www.aasa.org/SchoolBreakfast.aspx  

Join AASA Children's Programs Department at the 2017 AASA National Conference on Education

(Alternative School Breakfast , Children’s Health Insurance , Innovative Professional Development, National Awareness, Equity, Student Support Services, Community Schools , ESSA) Permanent link

 NCE2017Header

  Join AASA Children's Programs Department  in New Orleans at the 2017 National Conference on Education (NCE), this March!  

  Below is a schedule of concurrent sessions, Thought Leader sessions and  the Dr. Effie H. Jones Memorial Luncheon. 

 Click on the links below to see flyers with details on each of our sessions.

Register today at nce.aasa.org .

During the conference follow us on social media at @AASATotalChild and  using #NCE17 and read recaps of our sessions  in Conference Daily Online.

Schedule of Events

 Thursday March 2, 2017

9:00 am-10:00 am: Thought Leader: Redesigning Professional Development Systems Leadership, Feedback and Impact (Room 207)
9:00 am -10:00 am: Igniting and Insuring a STEAM K-16 Pipeline  (Room 211) 
12:15pm -1:00 pm: Knowledge Exchange Theater: Online Support for In-School Impact: #InsureAllChildren-- a demonstration of the AASA/ Children's Defense Fund school-based, child health insurance outreach and enrollment toolkit.(Exhibit Hall)

 Healthinsurancetoolkitheader
1:00 pm-2:00 pm: Dealing with Loss and Grief in School   (Room 211)
2:45 pm -3:45 pm: Feeding Hungry Minds: Funding Your School Breakfast Program (Room 211)
4:00 pm-5:00 pm: Thought Leader: Community Schools: Cultivating Opportunity, Equity and Agency (Room 207)

 Friday March 3, 2017
10:45 am -11:45 am:  Leveraging the Every Student Succeeds Act to Provide Integrated Student Supports (Room 211)
11:45 am -1:45 pm: The Dr. Effie H. Jones Memorial Luncheon with featured speaker, Monique W. Morris, author of Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (Room 208)
2:45 pm-3:45 pm: Build a Culture of Equity in Your District (Room 211)

equityequality

 

  

We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans!

 

 

 


AASA Community of Practice Highlights the Impact of Alternative School Breakfast

(Alternative School Breakfast , Healthy Eating and Active Living , On The Road) Permanent link

 CoPSchoolBreakfastNOLA
The entire group for the Community of Practice at the end of the meeting in New Orleans.

 On October 19th and 20th, AASA, the School Superintendents Association, convened a Community of Practice for current and former Food Service Directors along with their mentors in New Orleans. A Community of Practice is more than a meeting, it’s an opportunity for participants to share best practices, brainstorm ideas to address challenges through case studies, and share stories on how the program has impacted their schools and community.

Mentors from state-level, anti-hunger community organizations, as well as food service directors from past cohorts, shared their expertise through interactive panel discussions. Everyone had a chance to network at a celebratory dinner in New Orleans, after spending the afternoon together.

Since 2011, with funding from the Walmart Foundation, AASA works with districts to increase school breakfast participation using alternative breakfast strategies like Grab N' Go and Breakfast in the Classroom. The current cohort of eleven school districts has been working with AASA since Spring 2015. AASA has funded 22 districts to do this work since 2011.

What Would You Do? Collaborative Case Studies  

 SBCoPinaction

 Following the welcome, introductions, and storytelling, participants were broken out into smaller groups to work on case studies. The case studies were inspired by focus groups that AASA conducted at four school districts currently participating in the initiative. Learn more about the focus groups from The Total Child

 In the case studies, groups developed plans on how to address hunger in their community, discussed how to approach the issue of food waste in their schools and developed a strategy on how to expand the breakfast program with parental support. They also considered different perspectives on healthy, less popular foods versus the more sugary foods like Pop tarts. One group developed their ideal alternative school breakfast program - if there were no limits with staffing or money. Participants were appreciative of this activity because it focused on issues that they face daily.

Insights and Advice from Past Food Service Directors and Mentors  

 PFSD Panel SBCOP
A panel of past food service directors.

 The Community of Practice featured two interactive panels: one featuring food service directors from past cohorts and another featuring mentor from statewide anti-hunger and dairy organizations.
The past food service directors panel focused on sustainability in terms of political support and communications. Key points included:

  •  Looking back, they were shocked on how much they needed the alternative school program.
  •  First and foremost, it’s important to consider what is best for children. Alternative School Breakfast has the potential to impact lives.
  •  If key stakeholders like superintendents and principals aren’t on board to have the program, historical data is important to show the importance of the school breakfast.
  •  Food service directors need to be connected to the superintendent, so that they are viewed as a key supporter of the school breakfast program.

 The mentors offered their expertise as state level advocates focused on anti-hunger and dairy initiatives. They discussed how food service directors can:

  •  Change the way they market school meals, and meals during summer and holiday breaks. For instance, take the word ‘free’ out of the marketing and instead say how it’s a complimentary meal.
  •  Change the dialogue of how school breakfast is discussed at the state level.
    •   Attend state association meetings with school system leaders
    •   Contribute to state level publications to show the impact of school breakfast, and
    •  Work with mentor organizations to connect with other school districts in your state to serve as a role model or learn from other districts on how they implement the program.
     
  •  Conduct a focus group with students to see what aspects of the program resonate with them.

 Stories from the Heart

Throughout the Community of Practice, current food service directors shared stories on the alternative school breakfast program through letters, videos, testimonials and parent surveys. Highlights included:  

  •  Chicago Public Schools and Newark Public Schools (NJ) had videos featuring students who made up their own songs on the impact of school breakfast.
  •  Spring Independent School District (TX) told one of their stories from the perspective of a favorite food item in Breakfast in the Classroom: little pancakes.
  •  In Newburgh Enlarged School District (NY), more than 50 parents filled out a survey which was promoted on social media and on the district’s website. Parents wrote of the impact that school breakfast had on their lives.
    •  One parent wrote: “I'll admit; I don't make the best food choices at times. I'm a full time student, with a deployed husband, and a newborn to care for. More often than not, by the end of my exhausting day, I'll give anything to my kindergartener just so we don't have to have a battle at the table. At least I know that she'll eat, and eat well when I don't have time to run to the supermarket for fresh fruits and veggies."

School district leaders discussed how they could use these stories to share with key stakeholders in their community like School Board members and how they could connect stories to the data collected relating to average daily participation and metrics relating to discipline and tardiness.

Community of Practice—More than a Meeting

 This Community of Practice was in part a celebration of the work that our 11 current participating districts have done over the past year and a half. It was also an opportunity for food service directors from past cohorts to reflect on how the program has evolved over the past five years. It was a chance for mentors to learn from school district leaders how they can best share their resources and expertise. By networking, sharing stories and problem solving through real life examples that occur on a daily basis, everyone went back to their district with new ideas on how to expand, sustain and improve their programs.  

 

Focus Groups Share Impact of AASA Alternative School Breakfast Program

(Alternative School Breakfast , Healthy Eating and Active Living , On The Road) Permanent link

 HempsteadFocusGroup

 In late September and early October, members of AASA Children’s Programs traveled to four of our 11 current school breakfast districts—Spring Independent School District (TX), Meriden Public Schools (CT), Newburgh Enlarged City School District (NY), and Hempstead Union Free School District (NY) to conduct focus groups with parents, administrators, and elementary, middle school and high school students.

With funding from the Walmart Foundation, AASA works with member districts to increase school breakfast participation using alternative breakfast strategies, such as Grab N Go, Breakfast in the Classroom and Second Chance Breakfast. The main goal of the initiative is to increase the number of low-income students who eat breakfast in these districts, thus helping to improve both health and education outcomes.

 

 HempsteadVending
Hempstead Union Free District (NY) School Breakfast Team in Front of Grab N Go Vending Machine in Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School.

Parents

 “Before, about two years ago, when we had to pay for meals, my daughter said she felt sorry for a friend who couldn’t afford breakfast or lunch. I had to explain that she could no longer share with her friend. How can you tell a kid that? It’s good for kids to now know that they have the option [to eat at school].” –Parent from Spring Independent School District (TX) 

 Spring ISD Focus Group September 19th
The parent focus group had the opportunity to sample Spring ISD's School Breakfast offerings, including smoothies.

Parents in Spring Independent School District, expressed a sentiment shared across all the focus groups from students to administrators: since every child has the option to eat breakfast, the students seem happier, more alert, and ready to learn in the morning. Students are more focused on their schoolwork rather than on the fact that they are hungry. Parents, students and administrators stated that because of eating breakfast, children did better in school.

Some of the parents’ children were in schools that weren’t part of the AASA alternative school breakfast program. They were hearing the positive experiences about the program from other parents, and wanted it for their children. It was helpful for the Superintendent and Food Service Director to hear this feedback so they not only can continue this program, but expand it to as many schools as possible in their district.

Students
“The lunch ladies are very nice and I appreciate everything they do. They do a good job because they are managing two lines at breakfast and lunch. I think that there should be a lunch ladies’ appreciation day.”-Middle School Student Meriden Public Schools (CT)

 MeridenGnGcart
Meriden Public Schools (CT) Grab N Go Cart.

 Hearing from students was a highlight from these focus groups. They brought perspectives about nutrition that were comparable to that of a dietician or food service director. For instance, one seventh grader-with no personal dietary restrictions- from Meriden Public Schools, suggested that the school breakfast team add more variety of milk such as almond milk and lactose free milk. She also suggested including an extra breakfast cart for students with allergies to limit cross-contamination for those students with peanut, lactose and gluten allergies.

 Moreover, an elementary school student in Hempstead explained how she learned from the district’s Food Service Director that 20 grams or less of sugar are healthier options and should be considered to avoid getting cavities or having too many calories. The students also shared how while they would prefer hot food for breakfast (a preference shared across grade levels and in all the districts) they understood that when food cools down, there’s an increased risk of bacteria.

 Students appreciate the opportunity to socialize with friends during school breakfast time. They also found that hallways were less chaotic than when they only had the option to eat in the cafeteria. In middle and high schools, more children are waiting in line, eager to eat Grab N Go breakfast from a cart or vending machine. Middle school students in Meriden Public Schools discussed how the Grab N Go cart method is used so much, that they suggested that the school breakfast team should purchase an extra cart.

 Furthermore, in elementary schools, Breakfast in the Classroom helps children ease into their school day.

   “When breakfast was served in the cafeteria, [The school staff] used to tell us ‘hurry up, hurry up, be quiet, be quiet’. Now that it is eaten in the classroom, they encourage us to be more social,” observed an elementary school student in Hempstead Union Free District (NY).

Administrators

 “Not as many students are coming [to the nurse’s office] because they are hungry. I used to give [students] crackers and juice- things like that-. I don’t do that as much anymore. I tell [the students] about the [school breakfast] vending machines and they use them.” – A middle school Nurse, Newburgh Enlarged School District (NY) 

 A look of horror crossed each of the four assistant principals’ faces at a middle school, when asked if they thought school breakfast should be continued or discontinued in Newburgh Enlarged School District. “Discontinue? No, we can’t do that,” said one assistant principal, “Taking away the breakfast program would be disruptive to the school and the kids will be agitated.”

 The assistant principals in Newburgh Enlarged School District (NY) shared how a local church served meals during out-of-school times such as summertime or during breaks. When pulling information for the summer meal program, the Food Service Director noted that many children had the same address -that of a hotel for the homeless. That helped the district know that there were more homeless children in their district than the 1,000 that they count.  

 As of the 2016-2017 school year, the Newburgh has district wide Community Eligibility, meaning all students receive free school breakfast and school lunch.

 “When we announced district wide Community Eligibility during ninth grade orientation, the parents were excited about free breakfast and lunch,” the assistant principals said.

 Other administrators discussed how they approached implementing the program.

 “I thought school breakfast was a great idea, but it was scary in the sense of ‘how are we going to do it,’” said a middle school principal in Meriden Public Schools (CT). “School breakfast started day one. We said ‘we are doing to attack it and do the best we can.’"

Conclusions  

 It was apparent from the focus groups that breakfast affects students beyond academics and that these programs impacted the districts’ communities in a positive way.

 For Meriden, Public Schools (CT), establishing a community feel was essential to the success of their program. Everyone on staff from teachers to custodians to the principal to the library manager greets the children in the morning, encouraging them to take a breakfast. The school psychologist noted that “something we talked about in grad school is how kids who eat breakfast do better. It was great to see alternative school breakfast in action, after learning about its impact in school.”

  Sharon Gardner was encouraged to begin a summer meals program after learning about it from other participating school district leaders at AASA’s April 2016 Community of Practice .

“I was afraid of [implementing a summer meal programs] for a long time. I thought it would be a big, bad scary thing and it wasn’t,” said Hempstead Food Service Director Sharon Gardner.

 A Community of Practice is more than a meeting—it’s an opportunity to share best practices, brainstorm ideas to address challenges and share stories of how the program has impacted schools and community. AASA convened another Community of Practice in late October 2016. Insights from the focus groups inspired case studies, where food service directors and mentors from state level anti-hunger and dairy organizations worked together to develop strategies and plans on how to improve the alternative school breakfast programs. Learn more about the October 2016 Community of Practice from the Total Child blog.

Snapshot of Focus Group School Districts

  

District
City/State
Superintendent
Food Service Director
Free/ Reduced Meal Rate
Spring Independent School District     
Houston, TX
Rodney Watson
Shelly Copeland
 74%
Meriden Public Schools
Meriden, Conn.
Mark Benigni
Susan Maffe
68%
Newburgh Enlarged City School District
Newburgh, NY
Roberto Padilla
Caitlin Lazarski
CEP District Wide
Hempstead Union Free District
Hempstead, NY
Fadhilika Atiba-Weza Sharon Gardner CEP District Wide