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Creative strategies to maintain successful breakfast programs are employed in many of Pennsylvania's schools. Foodservice staff at these schools, often in collaboration with personnel from other disciplines and from the community at large, devise innovative plans for increasing breakfast participation rates and improving the nutritional quality of breakfast items, all while gaining support from various stakeholders. Transforming a section of the school library into a cafe, using peer education to promote breakfast, serving breakfast in the hallways, and inviting parents to participate in the breakfast program are just a few of the many success stories described here. The schools and districts represented in this collection have shared their successful tactics by way of Project PA's "Promising Practices" reporting form. These School Breakfast Promising Practicies offer insight and advice about beginning and sustaining successful breakfast programs for all grade levels - elementary through high school.

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  • Twin Valley SD Enjoys High Breakfast Participation at the HS Level

    Description

    Increasing school breakfast participation at the high school level can be a struggle for a variety of reasons. High schoolers may prefer to sleep as long as possible and not get to school in time for breakfast. Others may not be hungry first thing in the morning or would prefer to socialize with friends than go to the cafeteria for breakfast. Twin Valley School District has been successful at increasing breakfast participation in their high school with some fundamental yet subtle changes.

    Food Service Director Steve Amore brought his extensive experience in food service in higher education and hotel and restaurant management to his position at Twin Valley. In an effort to increase participation he said that he tried to make some fundamental changes to the program to be more approachable and appealing to the students. Part of this cultural change included an open door policy for the cafeteria. Recognizing how discouraging it can be for a student to try to enter a cafeteria and find that the doors are locked, Steve has extended the availability of breakfast at the high school to be open a little earlier and stay open after the school bell rings to be more accommodating to students, in particular to those who may trickle in a little late for a variety of reasons. Making that extra effort to accommodate students shows them that they are valued customers.

    One recognizable change to the program was the addition of a "Build Your Own Parfait" station which is open on Fridays. This station, which allows students to customize a healthy breakfast option, includes high-quality ingredients like yogurt, granola, almonds, dried fruit, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, when they’re in season. While some of the items may be a little expensive, the popularity of the station and the increase in participation that it generates makes it cost-effective.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Steve Amore
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Operations and Food Services
    Email: samore@tvsd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 286-8600 Ext. 1649

    Advice

    • Food quality drives sales. Focus on food productivity as this will minimize waste, keep costs down, and allow for higher quality products to be served.
    • Positive customer service is critical. Staff should be friendly, approachable, and welcoming. Don’t let hospitality get lost amidst all of the requirements of the program.
    • Try to keep program fresh and vibrant.
    • When instituting an “open door” policy for the cafeteria, school principal support is paramount.
    • Having staff who put care and attention into the food preparation and presentation can go a long way in influencing students’ meal choices.

    Evidence of Success

    • Breakfast participation in the high school has grown by about 50 breakfasts per day over the last 5 years. In addition, feedback from students about the program is very positive.
  • Customized Service Methods Allow Breakfast Participation to Soar at Albert Gallatin Schools

    Description

    In the 2018-2019 academic year, many schools in the Albert Gallatin School District took advantage of mini-grants offered by the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative. Friendship Elementary began a “Last Chance” breakfast program in which students who did not participate in the traditional breakfast service before school were allowed to leave class at the beginning of first period to pick up a pre-packed breakfast and bring it back to the classroom. A similar concept was implemented at North and South Middle Schools as students who were not able to attend the traditional breakfast or were not hungry prior to the start of school were allowed to head to the cafeteria between class periods. Students proceeded down a line and put various grab-n-go items in their bag as they went, before returning to the classroom. Meanwhile, through conversations with students at Albert Gallatin High School, it was determined that congestion in the cafeteria was a major issue. Many students were not eating breakfast because they felt the area was too crowded. Therefore, a third breakfast line with a breakfast cart was added to the traditional breakfast service where students could pick up grab-n-go items in the foyer of the school and then head to their classrooms. Overall, these individualized programs help fit and build a specific culture in the schools. At the elementary and middle schools that held a “Last Chance” breakfast program, while students were monitored by teachers and security personnel in the hallway to ensure that all students were safely returned to class, many enjoyed the perceived freedom of leaving class to get breakfast. It soon became a popular activity for students. Moreover, the high school has more of a fast-paced culture and therefore the grab-n-go aspect of breakfast made it much easier to fit into students’ daily routines.

    A major part of the success was explaining the benefits of students eating breakfast such as increased attentiveness and reduced disruptions to teachers, lunch staff, and custodians. While scheduling was a bit of an issue, this strategy resulted in a great deal of faculty and staff buy-in. The nursing staff was also a major supporter of students participating in breakfast as it seemed to reduce the number of students coming to the nurse’s office with an upset stomach. Another factor credited for the success of the program was the later start time at the elementary school and middle schools. Often students come into school tired and not ready to eat or socialize. Students seem to be more interested in interacting with peers slightly later in the day and this social interaction is a major promoter of participation in the breakfast program. Overall, by responding to the needs of students and collaborating with faculty and staff, the food services department at Albert Gallatin was able to achieve great increases in school breakfast participation. .

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Troy Golden
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: troy.golden@agasd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 564-7190 Ext: 8123

    Advice

    • Facilitate buy-in. After gaining a full understanding of the program and your goals, present it to administration and support will trickle down.
    • Keep it simple. Your service and menu do not have to be elaborate as long you are feeding students.

    Evidence of Success

    • Prior to implementation of the alternative breakfast service methods, participation in school breakfast ranged from 26-46% across the seven schools. This increased to 31-69% following implementation.
  • Varying Delivery Systems According to Building Needs | Millersburg Middle/High School and Lenkerville Elementary School, Millersburg ASD

    Description

    Prior to the 2008-2009 school year, the Millersburg Area SD served breakfast only on PSSA test days. Realizing that daily breakfast could improve academic performance throughout the year, and with an elementary free and reduced rate of about 31%, it was decided to start a district-wide school breakfast program in 2009. Before implementing their program, administrators consulted with Breakfast Brigade members David Lloyd and Carol Gilbert.

    Because of scheduling issues and a small cafeteria which would not accommodate all students, David Lloyd suggested that breakfast in the classroom would be a good format for the Lenkerville Elementary School. Supplies were purchased for cooling and transporting the meals.

    With consideration for scheduling issues, Carol Gilbert provided guidance toward choosing the Grab-N-Go format in the secondary building. Both hot and cold breakfast foods have been made available through the school’s cafeteria, where a student can gather components of a reimbursable meal before the bell rings.

    Adjustments have been made to increase participation at the secondary building. Middle school students were eventually directed to the cafeteria to await the start of homeroom, and a successful breakfast promotion consisting of a drawing for prizes was conducted. There is also the possibility of using the cafeteria as the location for high school homeroom, which might soon become a reality, too.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Gina Engle
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: nutrition@mlbgsd.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 692-2109,x323

    Objectives

    • To implement a district-wide breakfast program
    • To optimize student participation by tailoring each delivery system to the ages of the students and to the existing structure of the building environment

    Category

    Implementing Alternative School Breakfast Delivery Systems

    Advice

    • Try to observe a successful program of the type you plan to implement, and take principals and/or other administrators along to the site to enlist their support.
    • Having a plan in place enabled smooth implementation. At first, there were concerns with trash and disruptions, but these concerns were addressed and handled within the first few days.
    • Continue to offer new items to the students.

    Evidence of Success

    • Breakfast participation is at about 40%.
    • There has been a decrease in the number of hungry students visiting the nurse’s office and a decrease in classroom disruptions.
  • Adding Grab-N-Go to Increase Participation | Karns City HS, Karns City Area SD

    Description

    Karns City Area School District has added a Grab-N-Go style breakfast for the senior high students who are too busy with morning meetings to participate in the traditional, cafeteria-based breakfast program. Pre-packaged meals are now delivered to the senior high wing where students can purchase breakfast and take it to their homerooms or morning clubs and meetings.

    The use of clam-shell packaging to contain entire reimbursable breakfasts was instituted, and a cart was purchased to transport the food.

    Promotion of the program was achieved through posters in the cafeteria as well as in the senior wing. Reminders were incorporated into the morning public address system announcements, and teachers included reminders in their announcements.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Sandra Traister
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: straister@karnscity.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 756-2030, x1015

    Objective

    • To increase the high school breakfast participation rate to at least 20%

    Category

    • Maintaining a Successful School Breakfast Program at the High School Level

    Advice

    • Faculty and administration need to be supportive of students eating in instructional and meeting areas.
    • Cafeteria staff members need to adapt to serving both the Grab-N-Go and traditional-style breakfasts.

    Evidence of Success

    • The Karns City High School breakfast participation rate increased to 20%.
  • Serving Breakfast in the Hallway to Increase Participation | Forest City HS, Forest City Regional SD

    Description

    Forest City Regional School District was close to achieving a 20% breakfast participation rate which would allow them to receive a higher lunch reimbursement rate. Seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students waited for homeroom in the cafeteria, where they could get breakfast. However, the tenth through twelfth graders who waited in the gym did not want to leave their friends to go to the cafeteria for breakfast. To attract the additional students needed to achieve the 20% goal, breakfast was made available in the hallway outside of the gym for these older students.

    “Breakfast in the Hallway” has been made possible by the purchase of a warmer-cart that delivers hot breakfast items to the gym hallway. A cooler for milk and juice is also utilized. After students make their breakfast selections from this daily setup they can go to the gym to eat, or they can sit at tables in the hallway which are specifically provided for this purpose.

    Breakfast continues to be offered for the younger students while they wait in the cafeteria, but the older students prefer to eat in the coffee shop-style atmosphere created by the tables in the hallway by the gym.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Mary Lee Martines
    Contact Person’s Title: Cafeteria Manager
    Email: mlmartines@fcrsd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 785-2412

    Objectives

    • To increase breakfast participation by taking food to the students instead of requiring them to get it at the cafeteria
    • To receive higher reimbursement for lunches served by achieving a 20% participation rate for breakfast

    Category

    • Maintaining a Successful School Breakfast Program at the High School Level

    Advice

    • An alternative delivery system can be well worth the try, but be willing to be flexible to suit the needs and the boundaries of the situation.
    • This worked in part due to the support of school administration and faculty, especially teachers who are stationed in the gym in the morning.

    Evidence of Success

    • The 20% participation goal was reached, and participation has remained above this figure.
    • There has been much positive feedback about this system, especially from teachers on morning bus duty.
    • The “hallway” students have been well-behaved, and they have requested more tables!
  • Clearfield Alliance Christian School Personalized Breakfast Model Allows for Success in First Year

    Description

    Clearfield Alliance Christian School just became a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school for 2018-2019 school year, meaning that all students are able to receive breakfast and lunch at school free-of-charge. Prior to this time, the school’s only meal service was lunch. Therefore, Clearfield saw a need to start a school breakfast program. To implement this new program, Clearfield Alliance Christian School applied for a mini-grant through the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative which was designed to help schools create or expand alternative breakfast service models.

    Clearfield Alliance implemented 3 different service methods for different age groups in order to best meet their specific needs. In kindergarten, students received breakfast through the traditional cafeteria service before the start of the school day. This was an optimal strategy as it limited the mess in the classroom and fit into the school’s schedule because the kindergarten class starts 45 minutes later than the rest of the school, allowing time and space for breakfast to occur in the cafeteria. Grades 1-6 received breakfast in the classroom at the start of the school day. Work hours were increased for the two part-time cafeteria workers who prepared shelf-stable items on a cart the day before and students transported carts and cooler to the classroom in the morning. Older students also helped younger students open packaging. These activities not only reduced the burden on teachers but also increased students’ sense of self-sufficiency. Funds were used from the mini-grant to purchase carts, rolling coolers, reusable ice, insulated bags, and large garbage cans that allowed the program to be a success. Grades 7-12 participated in a Grab-n-Go program before the start of the school day that utilized a service cart purchased with mini-grant funds. With the Grab-n-Go program, despite the demands of their schedule, students were able to quickly pick up breakfast on their way to class.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Christi Manno
    Contact Person’s Title: Administrative Assistant
    Email:
    Contact Person’s Phone Number:

    Advice

    • Allow students to grab a brown bag and pack their own breakfast by selecting food items from the cafeteria line on their way to the bus on field trip days.
    • Try to fit breakfast into the existing school schedule.

    Evidence of Success

    • Clearfield Alliance Christian School served 13,973 reimbursable breakfasts in the 2018-2019 school year.
    • 83% of students in kindergarten participated in the traditional breakfast service that was offered to them.
    • 87% of students in grades 1-6 participated in the Breakfast in the Classroom program that was offered to them.
    • 60% of students in grades 7-12 participated in the Grab-n-Go program that was offered to them.
    •  
  • Community Academy of Philadelphia Ensures All Students Have Opportunity to Eat Breakfast with Multiple Service Methods

    Description

    The Community Academy of Philadelphia is K-12 charter school in an area of Philadelphia where many of the 1,225 students are of lower socioeconomic status. Prior to the 2018-2019 academic year, the school offered a traditional breakfast program in the cafeteria prior to the start of the school day. However, despite being a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school, only 20%-30% of students participated in the program due to their staggered arrival. Many students took schools buses, others took public transportation, some walked to school, and others were dropped off by parents. This resulted in many being late to breakfast or late to school which did not leave time to participate in the existing breakfast program. Therefore, when there was an opportunity to receive a mini-grant through the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative, the administration, food service management company, food service director, and deputy CEO were all onboard to create novel service methods that might increase student participation in school breakfast. With these funds, the Community Academy of Philadelphia was able to purchase insulated cooler bags, trashcans, and utility carts to begin a Breakfast in the Classroom program as well as 2 laptops, scanners, and carts to begin a Grab-n-Go program.

    After completing civil rights training and reviewing policies on the components of an approved breakfast with staff and teachers, Breakfast in the Classroom was instituted in February 2018 as well as Grab-n-Go in September 2018. Insulated cooler bags, containing breakfast items and rosters for accountability, were delivered to classrooms each morning at 7:30AM and were picked up an hour later by food service staff. This allowed students who arrived during this timeframe an opportunity to eat breakfast, making the Breakfast in the Classroom model particularly successful. The Grab-n-Go option allowed additional tardy students to participate in school breakfast as they could pick it up at the school entrance on their way in regardless of arrival time.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Patrick McGovern
    Contact Person’s Title: Assistant Operations Manager and NSLP Coordinator
    Email:
    Contact Person’s Phone Number:

    Advice

    • Consistently evaluate the efficacy of the program through student, staff, and parent survey and maintain open communication with these stakeholders.
    • Maintain up-to-date records including rosters and food allergies and provide food service staff with this information.

    Evidence of Success

    • Breakfast participation increased from 20%-30% in the 2017-2018 school year to 70%-80% in the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Grab-n-Go Model Allows Breakfast to Fit Student Schedules at Ferndale High School

    Description

    Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, students in grades 7-12 at Ferndale High School participated in a traditional breakfast program. Under this model, students would go to the cafeteria upon their arrival at school, prior to the start of classes. However, only approximately 30 of 254 students participated in this program daily. A student survey revealed that many students felt that they did not have enough time to eat breakfast in the time between arriving at school and the start of homeroom. The survey also indicated that over 80% of students would be interested in eating breakfast if there were a ‘Grab-n-Go’ option. Therefore, the Ferndale Area School District applied for a mini-grant through the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative, a program designed to help schools create or expand alternative breakfast service models.

    With the mini-grant funds, Ferndale High School was able to implement a ‘Grab-n-Go’ model where students have the option to sign out of homeroom to go to the cafeteria to pick up breakfast. In this way students did not have to arrive at school early to participate in breakfast and obtaining food better fit into their existing schedule. The program allows for a great deal of student autonomy as students still had the option to participate in the traditional breakfast program before the start of school, pick up a to-go breakfast and attend homeroom activities, or stay in the cafeteria if they did not have any activities to attend during homeroom.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Lori McGough
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Direct of Ferndale Area School District
    Email: lmcgough@fasdk12.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814)288-5757 Ext: 230

    Advice

    • Choose a breakfast model that fits into the existing school/student schedule.
    • Implement incentives to motivate students to participate in breakfast.
    • Collaborate with teachers and administrators and gain their support.

    Evidence of Success

    • Participation in the school breakfast program increased from 11% in the 2017-2018 school year to 54% in the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Hereford Elementary Builds Culture around Breakfast with Grab-n-Go Program

    Description

    Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, Hereford Elementary did not have much of a culture around breakfast. While there were certainly some students who participated in the traditional breakfast program, there was not much interest. Therefore, utilizing mini-grant funds from the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative, the school introduced a Grab-n-Go program for the 2018-2019 school year in which students pick up their breakfast in the cafeteria on their way into school in the morning. As they go down the line, they pick up a main breakfast item such as cereal or a strudel and then can choose their own fruit, juice, and milk and place them in a decorative translucent bag which they then bring it to the classroom. When the students have an opportunity to eat in the classroom, they have more time to enjoy their breakfast, supervision is ensured, and any mess is in a contained environment.

    The breakfast problem enjoyed a great deal of success due to the impact of advertising. Flyers were sent home before the start of the academic year and special events were held throughout the year such as theme days or having breakfast with the principal. Moreover, the Hereford Elementary food service department held focus groups with students throughout the year to determine which breakfast items were most favorable and designed the menu based on this feedback. Through this advertising, offering fresh and innovative breakfast items, and positive and encouraging communication between students and faculty/staff members, a culture was built around grabbing breakfast in the morning and it soon became a popular activity.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Paula Germinario
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Services Director - Upper Perkiomen School District
    Email: pgerminario@upsd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 541-2445

    Advice

    • While it can seem daunting to start a new breakfast model, jump in and try it! It is important to remember that is a learning process and you can make changes along the way.
    • Utilize your network and the internet to learn from the experiences of other food service directors and schools.

    Evidence of Success

    • Average daily participation in school breakfast in school year 2017/18 was about 10%. This increased to approximately 17% in school year 2018/19 after implementation of the Grab-n-Go program.
  • North Clarion Community Makes Breakfast in the Classroom a Success for Kindergarteners

    Description

    At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, North Clarion Elementary School implemented a Breakfast in the Classroom program for their kindergarten classes. Aides in the classroom were trained on the components of a reimbursable meal to help distribute the food to students. It was found in the past that it could be overwhelming for kindergartners, who were new to school overall, to go to a crowded cafeteria and wait in line to receive breakfast. Under the Breakfast in the Classroom program, the food was much more readily accessible to students in a more comfortable location. Students in the higher grades still participated in a traditional breakfast program but this year the options in terms of food items were greatly expanded. The menus were adjusted throughout the year based on student preference as well.

    A sense of community was built around the breakfast program and played a large role in its success. Many of the administrators, teachers, cafeteria and custodial staff have family members that are students at the school and there was a desire among them to ameliorate the program in order to help out not only their own families but other families as well. Even if students came to school late, an effort was always made to provide them with breakfast before they head off to class in order to start their day in a positive way. In addition, letters were sent home to students’ families at the beginning of the school year to not only inform parents/guardians of the existence of the program but also served to gain interest in and support for the program. Overall, through this collaboration, a community and a positive culture was built around breakfast at North Clarion Elementary School.

    Based on the success of this year’s program, the Breakfast in the Classroom program for kindergarteners and the expanded traditional breakfast for older students will continue in the coming academic year. Moreover, for students who will be participating in traditional breakfast, the cafeteria has been redesigned to allow for better equipment and a more streamlined queuing system such that students can get through the line more quickly and have enough time to enjoy their breakfast before heading to class.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: David Reitz
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Services Director
    Email: dreitz@redbankvalley.net
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814)275-2424 Ext: 235

    Advice

    • Think outside of the box to make it happen such as involving teachers and aides in the breakfast program.
    • Make breakfast a positive experience. Offer enough choices such that all students can find something they like but don’t be afraid to stick with what works.

    Evidence of Success

    • In a school of 300 students, over 100 meals are served at breakfast each day.
    • Teachers noticed an increase in students’ attentiveness and a reduction in behavioral issues.
  • North Penn Schools Increase Breakfast Participation with Mobile Service Carts

    Description

    Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, North Penn High School and Penndale Middle School offered a traditional breakfast program in the cafeteria prior to the start of the school day. Students ate breakfast in the cafeteria or carried it with them to class. School breakfast staff found that many students were not participating in breakfast because of the physical distance between their classrooms and the cafeteria, with some students having to walk for as many as twenty minutes from the cafeteria to their first class. There was also a lack of awareness of breakfast availability at school with a prevalent assumption that school breakfast offerings were only available for those students who qualified for free/reduced meals. Therefore, the North Penn School District applied for and received two mini-grants through the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative (designed to help schools create or expand alternative breakfast service models) in the amount of $5,000 each to put toward the purchase of a mobile breakfast cart for each school.

    Through collaboration with administration, cafeteria staff, and the American Dairy Association North East, a different cart was chosen for each school to meet the specific needs of the school, its design, and students. The carts were positioned at the entrance of each school and opened a bit earlier than the cafeteria to make breakfast more accessible as students arrived at school. A barcode scanner was also implemented that allowed students to scan their ID instead of typing in a PIN number. This allowed for a more efficient purchasing process and cut down on wait times, allowing students to get to class more expeditiously. Through student survey it was identified that grab-n-go items were desired; therefore, foods such as granola bars and parfaits were added to increase student interest in eating breakfast from the cart. The food service staff, administration, and teachers all worked together, utilizing announcements, flyers, posters, and school TV advertisements, to help make students aware of the cart’s presence and offerings.

    Contact Person: Melissa Froehlich
    Contact Person’s Title: Coordinator of School Nutrition Services
    Email:
    Contact Person’s Phone Number:

    Advice

    • Get teachers, administrators, and food service staff involved; their support can greatly increase the success of a novel breakfast service method.
    • Obtain student feedback about breakfast habits and what offerings they would like to see.
    • Provide food offerings that students are interested in.

    Evidence of Success

    • School breakfast participation at North Penn High School increased from 11% in the year prior to implementation to 15% in the year of implementation. Approximately 200 more students participated in school breakfast each day.
    • School breakfast participation at Penndale Middle School increased from 10% in the year prior to implementation to 13% in the year of implementation. Approximately 50-75 more students participated in school breakfast each day.
    • Teachers, administrators, and nursing staff at Penndale Middle School reported an increase in attentiveness and healthy eating with a simultaneous decrease in stigma surrounding school breakfast and stomachaches/headaches.
  • Innovation and Efficiency are Key to Increased Breakfast Participation at West Middlesex Elementary

    Description

    Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, many students at West Middlesex Elementary School were not participating in the traditional school breakfast program as they felt that they did not have enough time to move through the cafeteria line and then eat breakfast before heading to class. Therefore, with mini-grant funds from the PA Department of Education’s School Breakfast Initiative, a new line was added to the elementary school cafeteria. In a two-line system, students in kindergarten through second grade queued on one side while students in third through sixth grades formed another line. This allowed students, especially younger students, to feel more comfortable and less rushed in the line as they were among their peers. Moreover, service was eliminated. Students were trained about which items constituted a reimbursable breakfast and they moved down the cafeteria line selecting their own food items in a grab-n-go fashion. While this took a bit of time to establish the routine, within a few months the process was running smoothly and the success ran over into lunch as the procedures for both meals are very similar.

    Each morning students who wish to participate in breakfast are let off of the school buses early and they eat their breakfast in the cafeteria before the start of the school day. In this way, they have enough time to enjoy their breakfast before heading off to class. Teachers supervise students in the cafeteria in the morning. This allows the students to be monitored by someone with whom they have rapport and allows for cafeteria staff to focus on welcoming students, helping them make healthy food choices, and sharing positive messages about breakfast. Additionally, a share table was introduced to encourage students to take the reimbursable breakfast even if there were items that they were not going to eat. By the end of the year, most students were eating the complete breakfast but any items that were placed on the share table were able to be enjoyed by other students.

    The school has also had success experimenting with new breakfast items such as a ‘banana boat,’ a banana with yogurt and berries on top. They have also been reaching out to local vendors to obtain no-cost food products to benefit the program. These new food options have been made possible by individual serving containers that students can easily pick up as they move down the line. With this focus on expediency, innovation, and positive messaging around breakfast, students became excited to go to breakfast and soon began to bring their friends with them, further fueling the success of the program.

    Contact Person: Marie Popatak
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director - West Middlesex Area School District
    Email: mpopatak@wmasd.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 634-3008

    Advice

    • Communicate with students and staff to determine which items are most popular before designing the menu.
    • Apply for grants! The breakfast program was completely changed for the positive by the addition of a second line. Because of the grant, all students now have access to breakfast.

    Evidence of Success

    • After the implementation of the breakfast program, teachers noticed that students were less tired in class, had fewer behavior problems, and are more attentive.
    • Students more frequently take and eat fresh fruit due to innovative serving methods.
  • Claysburg-Kimmel School District Makes School Breakfast Appealing for High Schoolers

    Description

    Claysburg-Kimmel is a small school district with an enrollment of about 800 in two school buildings and a free/reduced eligibility of about 60%. While school breakfast participation in the elementary school had always been strong, participation lagged at the high school level because of logistical issues and lack of interest among the students. Recognizing the need to increase participation at the high school the district applied for and received a PDE school breakfast mini-grant to purchase a cart to provide a “Grab ‘n Go” breakfast option while still maintaining the traditional cafeteria line.

    In order to appeal to high school students, they tried to make the cart area attractive by hanging posters, bringing in bar stools, and installing charging stations that students could use to charge their school-issued iPads. They were also careful to pick a staff member with a friendly and inviting personality to manage the cart. In addition, they extended the time the cart was open so that students who did not get breakfast before their homeroom period could get a pass in their homerooms and to get breakfast from the cart or stop between classes.

    Contact Person: Michelle Smithmyer
    Contact Person’s Title: Business Manager
    Email: msmithmyer@cksdblldogs.com
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 239-5141 Ext. 354

    Advice

    • Buy-in from administrators and teachers is cited as keys to success. When the cart was introduced, teachers were given coupons to encourage them to try the new breakfast bar and teachers often encourage students to use this new option for breakfast.
    • Make the area appealing to students and an area where they will want to spend time.

    Evidence of Success

    • Claysburg-Kimmel reported a 50% increase in breakfast participation at the high school after introduction of the Grab ‘n Go option.
  • Shanksville-Stonycreek School District Expands Grab ‘n Go to Elementary Students

    Description

    Shanksville-Stonycreek saw the success of their Grab ‘n Go breakfast program at the middle school/high school level and decided to expand it to the elementary school. Through a PDE school breakfast grant they were able to purchase a mobile cart, a computer for a Point-of-Sale station, and other supplies. They stationed the cart at the end of an elementary hallway. As students entered the building they were directed to go to their classrooms first to unload everything. After doing so, their hands were free and they could go to the cart, pick up breakfast, and bring it back to the classrooms.

    At first there was some concern about mess that could be generated with the Grab ‘n Go program. They had experienced little of this with the middle and high school students, but recognized that this could be a bigger challenge with younger students. Simply placing an extra trash can in the hallway so trash was deposited outside of the classrooms alleviated that concern.

    For the first few weeks of the program, teachers received complimentary breakfasts. This helped to gain teacher buy-in for the program and allowed them to actively participate in the program in the classrooms with their students.

    Advice

    • Trends show that kids are not used to a hot breakfast on a plate. They are more accustomed to pre-packaged, grab ‘n go items like those found in convenience stores. Grab ‘n Go school breakfast aligns with the type of service and breakfast items with which students are comfortable and familiar. Pre-packaged items should be in clear packaging so student can see what they are getting. When they wrapped an item in tin foil, participation was low because students could not see what they were getting.

    Evidence of Success

    • Shanksville-Stonycreek is a small district with only about 330 students. Prior to the initiation of the Grab ‘n Go systems, only about 20 students participated in school breakfast on a regular basis. With the expansion of the program into the elementary school, participation increased throughout the year with an average of about 80 students participating daily. Several days saw participation numbers reach 100.
  • Halifax Area HS Breakfast

    Description

    Prior to School Year 2019-2020, breakfast at Halifax Area High School was served in the cafeteria from 7:10am to 7:30am and students were not permitted to take food into the classrooms. That early start presented some challenges for the Food Service Department since high school students are notorious for last-second arrivals and were unlikely to get to school early enough to get breakfast prior to the start of the school day. Also, lunch periods did not start until noon, leaving a long-stretch between meals, especially for students who skipped breakfast. Halifax Area High School was the recipient of a school breakfast mini-grant offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the 2019-2020 School Year and decided to use the funds to add a Second Chance Breakfast program to accommodate the lifestyles of the high school students. While traditional breakfast service continued to be offered in the cafeteria before the start of the school day, Second Chance breakfast was offered as a “Grab ‘n Go” option between 8:15am and 9:15am in the schools “Media Café.” This café is centrally located within the school and has the feel of a trendy coffee shop. Most students picked up breakfast from the café and took it back to their classrooms, where food was now allowed. If students were finished with their class or had a study hall, they could stay in the café where small group tables were available.

    Lori Miller, Director of Food Services, feels that the introduction of the Second Chance breakfast through the Media Café helped to build positive relationships between the school community and her cafeteria staff. She noticed that it seemed to break down the barrier of a strict cafeteria service area and allowed for positive interactions between the friendly and hospitable café staff and students. It also made the students feel special knowing that this unique type of meal service was being offered for them. In addition, it allowed teachers and aides to drop by more easily for breakfast or snack items.

    When planning the menu, small samples of homemade items were offered to students and staff. Many of these items were preferred over the more processed/pre-packaged items. Included in the menu options are a breakfast burrito, egg bake, breakfast sliders, baked oatmeal, smoothies, and homemade muffins.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Lori Miller
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Services
    Email: millerl@hasd.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 896-3416 Ext. 126

    Advice

    Lori feels passionate about the importance of feeding children and helping them get through the day, given the extenuating circumstances that surround many of them. Offering this breakfast program created a strong and valuable connection between the cafeteria staff and students and she encourages other to “take the leap.”

    Evidence of Success

    In February of 2019, participation in school breakfast was 12%. In February of 2020, after implementing the Second Chance breakfast option, participation increased to 25%.

  • Grab ‘n Go Breakfast and Stakeholder Support Lead to Increase in Breakfast Participation at Liberty Curtin Elementary School (Keystone Central School District)

    Description

    Participation in school breakfast at Liberty Curtin elementary school in the Keystone Central school district increased due to the introduction of Grab ‘n Go breakfast in the library and the support of key stakeholders. Liberty Curtin elementary school was the recipient of a school breakfast mini-grant offered through the Pennsylvania Department of Education for school year 2019/2020. Prior to implementation of the mini-grant project, breakfast was only offered in the school cafeteria. Mini-grant funds were used to purchase of a Point-of-Sale system that allowed for offering Grab ‘n Go breakfast in the school library where many students were congregating to socialize with friends. Bags were packed with the entrée choices for the day and were taken, along with bulk supplies of milk, juice, and fruit to the Grab ‘n Go locations and were offered to students using an Offer versus Serve system. Students were also permitted to take the food to their classrooms, which had not been allowed in the past, and they enjoyed this new freedom.

    Some teachers initially expressed concern about food in the classrooms due to the possibility of classroom mess and the clogging of sinks with food waste. These issues were addressed by the strategic placement of garbage cans on wheels. PTO funds were also used for the purchase of plastic colanders that were used to strain food waste so it would not clog the sinks.

    The program enjoyed strong support from the building principal who used the school’s communication platform to encourage students to eat breakfast and shared information about the program with parents through PTO meetings. Teachers used nutrition education and breakfast “meal passes” allowing them to receive free breakfasts to model the importance of eating breakfast. Sharon Berger, the district’s Food Service Director, was able to track breakfast counts by classroom. She shared this information with the principal who then spoke to the teachers in the classrooms with low participation and asked them to encourage their students to participate.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Sharon Berger
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Services
    Email: sberger@kcsd.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 893-4900 Ext. 2302

    Advice

    Support from the principal and teachers was a key to the success of the program. Work to build rapport and trust with them.

    Evidence of Success

    In February 2019, prior to the implementation of the mini-grant project school breakfast participation was 26%. In February 2020, after the Grab ‘n Go program was implemented, participation increased to 54%.

  • Mayfair School Expands Breakfast in the Classroom

    Description

    Mayfair School is the largest elementary school in the School District of Philadelphia with more than 2000 students in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Breakfast in the Classroom was offered at this school but, because of logistical issues, the school food service program was only able to provide this program to 31 of the school’s 62 classrooms. Breakfast was also offered in the cafeteria. The school was a recipient of a school breakfast mini-grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for school year 2019-2020. The receipt of the grant coincided with renovations to the school building and the school food service department was able to use that opportunity to advocate for additional space for the school food service program that they needed to prepare the breakfast items and pack them for distribution to the classrooms. They were also able to designate staff specifically for breakfast and purchase a milk cooler using the grant funding. With the changes made, they were able to expand the Breakfast in the Classroom program to all of the school’s 62 classrooms.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Amy Virus
    Contact Person’s Title: Manager, Administrative & Support Service | The School District of Philadelphia
    Email: alvir@philasd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 400-5972

    Advice

    Support from the school staff was a key to the success of this program. Work to keep the lines of communication open and to build positive relationships.

    Evidence of Success

    In February 2019, prior to the expansion of the Breakfast in the Classroom program, participation in school breakfast was 53%. With the expansion of the program, participation in school breakfast in February 2020 was 81%.

  • Moshannon Valley JSHS Increases Breakfast Participation Through the Opening of their “Collaboration Café”

    Description

    Moshannon Valley Junior/Senior High School was the recipient of a school breakfast mini-grant made available by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for School Year 2019-2020. This coincided with renovations to the school’s library into a “Collaboration Center” which provided rooms for students to meet in groups and use the latest technology, providing an environment similar to that found on college campuses. Within the “Collaboration Center” they opened the “Collaboration Café” with a walk-up window through which they offered Grab ‘n Go breakfasts. The café includes an awning, a neon sign that can be changed each day to advertise the breakfast menu for the day, a cooler, and baskets filled with fruit. Perhaps most importantly, the café was staffed by food service employees who always met the students with friendly smiles and made them feel welcome and special. A breakfast cart near the main entrance to the school provided another location for “Grab ‘n Go” breakfasts. A wide variety of options have been made available at both locations, including breakfast bars, cereal, whole grain cinnamon rolls, smoothies, yogurt, and even hot items such as hot breakfast sandwiches and breakfast pizza. Knowing that many high school students are not likely to sacrifice sleep time to arrive at school early for breakfast, the school offered two additional opportunities for students to get breakfast. In addition to being available prior to the start of the school day, the “Grab ‘n Go” options were also available between first and second periods and between second and third periods.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Danielle Detwiler
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: ddetwiler@movalley.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 378-7616 Ext. 2023

    Advice

    Danielle Detwiler, Food Service Director, feels that the friendly, courteous, welcoming staff played a big role in increasing participation. Also, offering a wide variety of choices, and changing the items offered to avoid monotony and meet students’ preferences kept the students coming back.

    Evidence of Success

    In February 2019, prior to the implementation of the mini-grant project, school breakfast participation was 27%. In February 2020, after the mini-grant project was implemented, participation increased to 40%.

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