Boosting School Breakfast Participation with the Help of Walpole High School Students

Walpole bistro area

Walpole High School students enjoy breakfast in this upscale bistro dining area in the cafeteria.

In an effort to increase school breakfast participation, the director of the school nutrition program for Walpole Public Schools, Maria Hall, tapped into one of her most valuable assets…student input! Hall recognized that including the students in the decision making process gave them ownership and made it more likely for them to participate. Input on menu items and delivery method was solicited from the student council. Using a survey, the teens provided their feedback about specific items as they taste tested a sampling of breakfast foods. Hall also tapped into the teens ideas about ways to make school breakfast environment more appealing.

walpole champion cafe

Walpole High School branded the cafeteria Champion Cafe as a way to promote its school breakfast and lunch programs.

From this input, the dining area was branded the Champion Cafe, and a new bistro area was born – offering the high school students an upscale dining experience within their school. Among the full service breakfast offerings in the Champion Cafe, students enjoy the ever popular omelet bar – started with the help of a chef hired by Hall to infuse more culinary variety into the program. Future plans include expanding the bistro area to offer smoothies, as well as to incorporate a grab-n-go style breakfast where students will have access to a self-serve toaster and waffle maker.

Most recently, Hall has tackled a new endeavor using technology to help market the program. A makeover to the school nutrition web site and a new App, both from Nutrislice, has the potential of putting the school menu information in the hands of everyone in the district. The Nutrislice App provides the school’s breakfast and lunch menus conveniently to smart phone users and the school’s website provides nutritionals for each menu item as well as allergen information, and much more.

Walpole schools menu2Thinking about expanding your school breakfast program, visit the School Breakfast page on the JSI Resource Center website for links to helpful resources.

Grab-n-Go Breakfast a Success at Fitchburg Middle School

Fitchburg Breakfast Cart_Edited

Students at Memorial Middle School in Fitchburg, MA grab breakfast on their way to class at kiosks located in various locations.

The director of the school nutrition program for Fitchburg Public Schools, Jill Lucius, is using innovative strategies tailored toward the needs of the students to serve a healthy breakfast at Memorial Middle School. With little time in the morning, and the students preference to socialize with their peers rather than coming to school early for a hot breakfast, the option of a grab-n-go breakfast was the best fit.

keypad

Students enter their 4 digit number into the wireless keypad simplifying the payment process for delivering breakfast.

Breakfast is now served via kiosks strategically positioned in high traffic areas in the hallway. The carts house all the essentials for a reimbursable meal including prepacked items, such as whole grain cereal, which speeds up the process. Students can also select milk and a piece of fruit. Using a wireless keypad for students to enter their four-digit PIN number also reduces wait time for students. On the launch day of the program, food-service staff were able to serve 400 students in 20 minutes.

Lucius used several steps to promote the school breakfast program including:

  • memo to teachers prior to the launch day informing them of the change and the importance of breakfast to encourage their students to take advantage of it.
  • Met with the Student Advisory Group to get their input for the kick off event.
  • Applied for a grant from Fuel Up to Play and received posters and milk coolers for the carts.

Lucius invited local luminaries including representatives from Fun’N’ Fitchburg, staff from Project Bread, and state Rep. Stephen DiNatale, D-Fitchburg to the kick off event. And, the Telegram highlighted the school breakfast program earlier this school year.

The district also celebrated National School Breakfast Week in March to promote their breakfast program. Schools served breakfast for lunch, which is always a huge hit with students, according to Lucius. Students who purchased a breakfast were also automatically entered in for a chance to win prizes donated by various companies including a laptop. In addition, foodservice staff wore T-shirts to promote National School Breakfast Week.

For more ideas on how to market your School Breakfast Program, visit the School Breakfast page on the JSI Resource Center website.

2014 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit

HealthyKidsJoin school nutrition directors, managers and business managers from across the Commonwealth at the Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit on Wednesday May 21, 2014 at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA.  This timely and relevant conference aimed at promoting healthy students and healthy school nutrition programs is sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition.

Three main educational tracks are planned:

  • School Breakfast: Learn about changes in the School Breakfast Program and innovative strategies to market the program to increase participation.
  • USDA Foods: Discover how USDA Foods can help promote their School Nutrition Programs.
  • Financial Management: Explore resource management requirements to help run a successful school nutrition program.

Additional speakers and presentation topics include:

  • Valerie Brower, Principal at Brookfield Elementary School in Brockton, will share successful strategies to implement breakfast in the classroom.
  • Lynn Rodgers-Kuperman, USDA Federal Procurement Specialist, will present on federal procurement requirements.

Visit the JSI website for more details of the conference and view the brochure.

A Team Approach to Promoting School Breakfast in Cambridge

Marie Hercule, a school nutrition staff member at Morse Elementary School in Cambridge, MA, stands behind the fruit display she arranges for the School Breakfast Program.

Marie Hercule, a school nutrition staff member at Morse Elementary School in Cambridge, MA, stands behind the fruit display she arranges for the School Breakfast Program.

The Morse Elementary School in Cambridge is using a simple, but effective method to market its school breakfast program – TEAMWORK!  School nutrition staff, students and the principal all play a part in the promoting this school breakfast program.

When students arrive for breakfast they are enticed by visually appealing displays of delicious seasonal fresh fruit. It is the passion of Marie Hercule, a school nutrition staff member, who arranges fruit every morning for breakfast. The bright and contrasting colors of the fruit make breakfast more appealing to the students. Easy accessibility is also in action here…with a fruit display placed next to the register where students can easily grab a piece of fruit to round out their reimbursable meal. This simple and effective step is one of the popular strategies promoted by the Smarter Lunchroom Movement.

The Cambridge Public School district offers a hot breakfast item everyday as well as fruit, cold cereal, muffin, juice and milk. Students taste test menu items to assure their likes and dislikes are factored into the breakfast offerings. A favorite at breakfast is the hot oatmeal – the secret ingredient, apple cider, makes it one of the most popular items.

Cambridge Postcard

Postcard promoting school breakfast from the principal at the Morse Elementary School.

Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day!
Students and their families were reminded of this popular message when they received a postcard from their school principal, a strong supporter of school breakfast. The postcard was mailed to parents at the beginning of the school year to reinforce the importance of breakfast as well as provide information on how to participate in the breakfast program. It served as an important reminder to parents about the learning connection between a well-nourished child and academic success. Parents were also invited to join their child for breakfast at school. The Cambridge Public School District provides families and students with school breakfast and lunch menus on their web page, along with other helpful food and nutrition resources.

For more information about marketing school breakfast, visit the School Breakfast page on the JSI Resource Center for additional resources, including innovative ways to promote your school breakfast program.