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.
|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