Colorado schools earn cash for boosting breakfast participation

Breakfast in the classroom programs helped four schoosl increase morning meal counts.

An unusual state initiative for boosting participation in the school breakfast program has awarded several thousand dollars in cash prizes to four Colorado elementary schools.

Clayton Elementary, with a 72% jump in participation, was presented with the first-place prize of $5,000 under the second School Breakfast Challenge. The program invites school feeding operations throughout the state to vie for dollars by drawing more eligible students to breakfast.

A second prize of $3,000 was presented to Penrose Elementary, which logged a 71% increase in participation, and $2,000 was given to third-place finisher Longfellow Elementary, with a 67% rise. Honorable mention and $1,000 went to Northeast Elementary for its 66% participation boost.

The nutrition departments for each of the top-finishing school were also awarded $1,000.

All of the prize earners switched from cafeteria breakfast service to breakfast in the classroom model. Officials noted that the classroom service spares students the embarrassment they might feel for participating in a subsidized meal program. They also mentioned that it ensures the children are in class when school starts.

The Colorado School Breakfast Challenge is administered by Hunger Free Children, a charitable program for underprivileged children, with support from Share Our Strength and Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former restaurateur.

About 217,000 students participate in the federal National School Lunch Program, but only 87,000 participate in its breakfast version, according to Colorado’s Department of Education. Both feeding programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources