We have always heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This has been a proven fact. Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast have an easier time learning and are less likely to be absent from school versus students who do not have a healthy breakfast. School lunch programs are very beneficial for children because they provide one-fourth of a student’s daily needs, however, participation in school breakfast programs can present challenges. Evaluating your school breakfast program and being able to meet the needs of your students is important for a successful breakfast program.
What Are Some Ways to Increase Breakfast Participation?
There are a number of ways that you can increase participation with breakfast programs in your school/district. Grab and Go is becoming a popular way to increase breakfast participation. Grab and Go is convenient because it can be provided just about anywhere such as at school entrances, on mobile carts, or even in the cafeteria. Some students are not hungry right away in the morning and this method provides them the ability to eat when it suites them. This method also leads into a second way that can increase breakfast participation which is Breakfast in the Classroom, which implies just that, it allows for students to eat breakfast in the classroom in the morning or during their break time. Marketing is another important factor in creating a successful breakfast program. If students don’t know about the program, naturally, they will not participate. One marketing strategy for promoting your breakfast program is to post menus to your school’s foodservice website. Along with the menus you can also provide nutritional information, prices, and other important information for parents and students to view. Providing a “Breakfast for Lunch” meal is another great strategy for promoting your breakfast program. This can create an interest for students to participate in the breakfast program. Some other strategies that are helpful are announcements, flyers, themed days, etc. For more information on promoting your breakfast program, visit USDA’s website at http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/breakfast/.
Menu Ideas for Your School Breakfast Program
There are a wide variety of choices for a healthy meal. Offering foods in the following categories can ensure a healthy breakfast each day: fruits and vegetables, grains, 1% non flavored or fat free flavored or non flavored milk, meat and meat alternatives. USDA’s website also provides an excellent sample menu for school breakfast programs.
Whether you are getting your breakfast program up and running or looking for ways to enhance your program, we all can do our part to provide healthier meals to children everyday to ensure that they are getting a well balanced meal.