5 tips to make your school breakfast program a success

students breaakfast school table

Considered by many to be the most important meal of the day, breakfast is now served to over 14 million students daily, according to the USDA. School districts across the country are looking for ways to grow their breakfast program without disrupting the classroom or sacrificing instruction time. Here are five ways to take your breakfast program to the next level. 

1. Take breakfast to the bus

school bus students

While breakfast in the hall or classroom is a popular choice for many schools, Kaleva Norman Dickson School District in Brethren, Mich., does things a little differently. When Food Service Director Jenice Momber realized that many students get up extra early to catch the bus—skipping breakfast as a result—she implemented breakfast on the bus. Students are offered a reimbursable full breakfast as they step onto the bus each morning. The meals are prepared by foodservice staff in sealable containers and contain both hot and cold items such as sausage biscuits and banana bread. Bus drivers are responsible for keeping track of how many students grab breakfast and also drop off the trash once they return from their route. 

2. Provide a pleasant environment

blurred cafe bistro

Students at Saginaw High School in Saginaw, Mich., are able to enjoy their breakfast in style with a bistro-themed setup in the hallway. The school offers students a variety of to-go items such as yogurt parfaits, cereal bars and pancakes on a stick. After grabbing their food, students can sit at nearby bistro-style tables to eat and hang out with friends before school starts. 

3. Support anonymity

anonymous man

School districts in Maryland found that students from low-income families may feel singled out when receiving free or reduced breakfast, leading them to skip the meal. To make sure students from low-income families don’t feel stigmatized, Perry Hall High School in Baltimore implemented an ID payment system where all students, regardless of whether or not they qualify for free breakfast, must enter their account number when grabbing food. The payment system then only charges students who don’t qualify. 

4. Offer a second chance breakfast

blank coffee cup bag

Since many students arrive to school late, Liberal High School in Liberal, Kan., offers breakfast after the first period. The school serves a packed to-go breakfast bag from a hallway kiosk as well as the cafeteria to give students multiple ways to access morning fuel. 

5. Let students take the lead

oatmeal ingredients toppings

Whitehall School District in Whitehall, Mich., turned to the student body when figuring out what to offer for breakfast. The result was Oatmeal-licious, an oatmeal bar created by a fifth-grader that allows students to customize their own oatmeal bowls with various fruits and toppings. The bar is offered in the cafeteria every Friday, and students act as servers, providing their peers with a nutritional start to the day.

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