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Breakfast in the Classroom
Case Study: Maryland Schools Credit Classroom Breakfast for Huge Growth
May 23, 2012
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What’s the reason Charles County Public School in Maryland increased from serving 3,500 breakfasts per day to nearly 6,000 per day in one year? William Kreuter, Supervisor of Food Services for the county says the answer is obvious: Classroom Breakfast.  Breakfast is served in some fashion in all of its 37 schools daily.

 -18 of 21 elementary schools eat in the classroom

-4 of 8 middle schools eat in the classroom

-2 of 6 high schools eat in the classroom

“Pre-packaged breakfasts are invaluable,” says Kreuter. “Frankly, the grab and go concept does not work without them.”  Typical school breakfasts in the elementary schools are 1 hot and 2 cold choices (which includes E S Foods’ Breakfast BREAKS). The high schools also have “Second Chance breakfast” at 9:00 a.m., which accounts for 70 % of the breakfasts sold at these schools. In this community, 30% of the 27,207 students qualify for free or reduced priced meals.

“As we started in each school, we fed everyone at no cost for a week in each school, including the teachers and all other staff in the school,” explains Kreuter. “This showcased what we have to offer and had the teachers modeling eating breakfast. The one week investment pays off well in the long run.” He also added that the Superintendent emphasized the importance of breakfast to school principals.

“Breakfast BREAKS offer the variety we need so that the students don’t ‘burn out’ on the same cereal,” says Kreuter.  “The low trash generated by Breakfast BREAKS helped get the building service crew on the side of feeding breakfast in the classroom.”

Kreuter recommends putting breakfast for students into the perspective that teachers and administrators can relate to.  He finds he gets their attention with this scenario:

“Here is something to consider – let’s assume that every student eats dinner at home every night at 7:00 p.m. The next day when they come to school, if they did not eat breakfast at home, it’s been 12 hours since their last meal. If they don’t eat breakfast at home or school and wait until 11:00 a.m. or noon to eat lunch, it’s 16 or 17 hours! They have been without fuel for their brains for 16 to 17 hours. And the 4 hours between when they get to school and when they go to lunch they were working at their lowest energy level – that is the 4 hours you spent in your classrooms trying to teach them.”

Some other observations and tips from Kreuter:

*Start small: Tailor the delivery to each school. Don’t try to do an entire district at once. Do one school at a time, keeping in mind that one size does not fit all.

*Spills happen:  Acknowledge that some (very few) spills will happen. Give the teachers an ample supply of napkins, straws and spoons. This will give the teachers the feeling that they have the ability and things they need to clean up spills.

*Allow socialization: Keep in mind the social nature of meals, but 25 to 30 students in your class make a whole lot less noise than 100 in the cafeteria.

*It’s quick: It really only takes kids about 10 minutes to eat their breakfast.