As a teacher, you want your students to be focused and ready to learn throughout the day – and research shows that eating breakfast helps them do just that.
The federal School Breakfast Program (SBP) presents an opportunity to ensure every student consumes this all-important meal. However, the majority of schools that offer breakfast only do so at one place and time – in the cafeteria before class begins.
Participation in school breakfast increases dramatically when students are served when and where they are able and willing to eat. Models that successfully do this include Classroom Breakfast, Second Chance Breakfast, and Grab-n-Go Breakfast.
These models have proven to raise standardized test scores, improve the school learning environment, reduce tardiness and absenteeism, and cut down on hunger-related interruptions in the morning.
Implementing effective school breakfast programs that increase access, participation, and nutritional quality takes support from the whole school community. As a teacher, your voice is critical. Here are a few things you can do:
Find out how your school is serving breakfast.Your school may already participate in the federal School Breakfast Program, but breakfast is most likely offered at one place and time – in the cafeteria before class begins. That means a lot of students are probably missing out on the nutrition they need to learn and grow at their full potential. If you don’t already know, find out how your school serves breakfast. This is a great first step!
Talk to your principal and fellow teachers about school breakfast.Schedule a meeting with your principal. If your school does not participate in the federal School Breakfast Program or doesn’t use one of the models known to significantly increase student participation (such as Classroom Breakfast, Second Chance Breakfast, and Grab-n-Go Breakfast), ask why. Then talk to the principal about the health and academic benefits of such models, as well as their good fiscal sense. Invite other teachers to go with you.
Share your thoughts at PTA meetings.Ask the president of the Parent Teacher Association to put school breakfast on the agenda for the next meeting. If your school does not participate in the federal SBP or if it does not use one of the models known to significantly increase student participation (such as Classroom Breakfast, Second Chance Breakfast, and Grab-n-Go Breakfast), ask why. Then speak up about the health and academic benefits of such models, as well as their good fiscal sense. Also consider speaking up at a school board meeting. In either case, invite other teachers to go with you.
Identify a breakfast champion on the school board.A school board member who is enthusiastic about child nutrition and school meal programs can increase the visibility of the issue as well as advance specific changes like initiating Classroom Breakfast. Identify someone on the board who could be a breakfast champion.
Give Classroom Breakfast a shot.See for yourself how Classroom Breakfast can increase student focus and reduce tardiness and absenteeism. Try what many teachers do and use the time that students are eating to take attendance, collect homework, and check in with them in a less formal way â€“ or even get started with the morning lesson. Remember to give yourself and your students time to adjust to the new model and know that together you will smooth out any kinks.
Encourage your students to eat breakfast.Harness your creativity! Consider holding a class “contest” to challenge students to eat breakfast at school, and recognize them when they do. Or, simply sit and eat with your students as a way of providing motivation.