The Total Child

Community of Practice: A District Team Approach to Strengthening Breakfast After the Bell

(Alternative School Breakfast , Healthy Eating and Active Living , Student Support Services) Permanent link   All Posts

Guest post by Alison Maurice, Child Nutrition Policy Analyst and Megan McDonough, Child Nutrition Summer Intern, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)

AASA, The School Superintendents Association (AASA) and The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) partnered to host a webinar featuring three school districts that participate in AASA’s “Feeding Hungry Minds” alternative school breakfast initiative. Since 2011, The Walmart Foundation has supported AASA’s work.  

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This webinar featured Mountain View School District in California, Spring Independent School District (ISD) in Texas, and Newburgh Enlarged City School District in New York. These school district offers breakfast to their students using breakfast after the bell (BATB) models. The alternative breakfast programs these school districts have built -- with mentorship, technical assistance, and other support from AASA -- exemplify what is possible when school administrators and school nutrition staff join together to ensure students have the morning nutrition they need to be successful in the classroom.

To facilitate engagement of school superintendents and school nutrition directors, AASA established the Community of Practice (CoP) model as an integral part of their work on school breakfast with districts. The CoP brings together superintendents, food service directors, state anti-hunger organizations, and dairy associations to share best practices and problem solve together. The CoP’s structure encourages relationship building for a deeper understanding of participants’ shared vision on children, health and hunger. 

In 2013, Mountain View School District launched a grab and go breakfast program in all 12 of its schools. From 2013 to 2014, the district increased average daily school breakfast participation by 71 percent, with 5 out of 12 schools increasing by more than 100 percent.

“I believe administrative support, and in particular superintendent support, especially when initiating this program is critical,” said Lillian Maldonado French, Superintendent of Mountain View School District. “When folks knew it was something that we were all behind, especially something that the board and I were willing to support, I think folks really came along and tried to make sure that it was a success.” 

Spring ISD launched their district-wide school breakfast program in 2015 that began with eight schools and successfully grew to universal free breakfast by the end of that year. This is a priority for Superintendent Rodney Watson, who meets monthly with the district’s Chief Operating Officer, Director of Child Nutrition, students, and the Texas Department of Agriculture to set benchmarks for the school breakfast program.

Spring ISD’s 26 elementary schools serve breakfast in the classroom (BIC), while the 4 high schools and 2 middle schools use grab and go kiosks to distribute breakfast. Shelly Copeland, Director of Child Nutrition, noted that one of her principals quickly saw improvements in student behavior ,“and we see that on a daily basis—the calmness of the students and the community feel of having breakfast in the classroom.”

Newburgh Enlarged City School District had more than a 100 percent increase in breakfast participation in each of their 14 schools in 2015 when they began providing BIC to their 12,000 students.

“We believe in the research around when a child is hungry, the impact that it will have on student learning,” stated Roberto Padilla, Superintendent of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. “We [superintendents] are all in this profession because we love children and we want to create conditions whereby they have the optimal opportunity to achieve at the highest level. This is just simply a matter of removing a barrier that could get in that way.”

 Since 2011, AASA has engaged 30 school districts to increase participation in school breakfast to reduce hunger and increase the number of students who are healthy, alert, in school and learning. Learn more about this initiative through two School Governance and Leadership (SG&L) Publications: “Improving Attendance Health and Behavior: Moving Breakfast Out of the Cafeteria (2013)” and “Feeding Hungry Minds: Stories from the Field (2017). Access AASA’s resource library for more information on this initiative.

 Follow this link to access the webinar recording, and use this password: PpUV4P2Y


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