Classroom Breakfast Program a Huge Success in Erie Schools
December 16, 2015

Summarizing the effectiveness of its school district’s Breakfast in the Classroom program, Erie, Pennsylvania schools Superintendent Jay Badams said the program “has delivered in every respect.”  What a well-deserved, ringing endorsement for Classroom Breakfast!  This case study serves as a great model to share with administrators who might have reservations about starting a Classroom Breakfast program . The Erie School District expects to serve 1 million breakfasts in 13 schools this 2015-2016 school year. The Erie-Times News article, Success with Breakfast in Erie Classrooms, is provided in its entirety below. E S Foods is proud to be a part of this program. Our regional director, Angie Ferguson, has worked with the Erie School District for the past couple of years, and we are pleased to note that they serve Breakfast Breaks exclusively 5 days a week. This is truly a success story worth sharing.


Success with breakfast in Erie classrooms

By Erica Erwin

Erie Times-News

The words came between bites of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in Room 101.

“You don’t have to wait in line,” 9-year-old John Johnson said.

“And it’s not so loud,” classmate Raul Suarez chimed in with a smile.

Breakfast is being served — and not in a cafeteria.

Students at Erie’s Diehl School used to gather in the cafeteria before the start of the school day to eat free breakfasts provided through the federal National School Lunch Program.

Now they kick off the school day with breakfasts at their desks as part of the Breakfast in the Classroom program. Started in 2014-15 with the help of a $250,000 grant funded by the Walmart Foundation, the program has expanded from four pilot schools to 13 in the Erie School District — every elementary school and Wilson Middle School.

The district launched the program to help battle low participation rates in the school breakfast program. Some students couldn’t make it to school on time or felt stigmatized by participating.

Moving breakfast into the classroom at the start of the day has eliminated those barriers, said Jenny Johns of Metz Culinary Management, the district’s food vendor: In 2013-14, before the start of the program, the district served 474,000 meals. In 2015-16, it expects to serve 1 million at the 13 schools.

“It’s completely working,” Johns said at a celebration of the program at Diehl on Tuesday.

Principals and teachers spoke about the benefits they’ve seen: Fewer trips to the nurse for tummy aches fueled by hunger. Tardiness decreased. Students ready to learn.

“They’re getting a wholesome meal to begin the day,” McKinley Elementary School Principal Dana Suppa said.

Eating in the classroom also builds community, Suppa said. Students and teachers talk and connect.

“It’s like a family atmosphere that we promote,” he said.

Kevin Harper, principal at Edison Elementary School, used to be known as the Breakfast Bar King for his willingness to stock and hand out breakfast bars to hungry students who couldn’t or didn’t make it to the before-school breakfast program in the cafeteria.

Now he eats them himself, he said.

The number of breakfasts served at Edison has gone up from between 150 and 175 a day to between 400 and 450 a day.

“We have seen an incredible impact. … (The program) has been a godsend for us,” Harper said.

The next step is tracking achievement and behavior data to put data behind the belief the program has a direct effect on both.

The program “has delivered in every respect,” Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams said.

“For many of our children, the meals that they receive at school are the only organized and nutritious meals that they have in a day,” he said. “The fact that we’ve more than doubled the number of meals we’re serving says a lot socially and economically as well as simply making sure that our students are more prepared to learn.”