HOW TO CLOSE THE BREAKFAST GAP: Strategies that work! Research shows that students who eat breakfast at school have increased standardized achievement test scores, improved attendance and reduced tardiness. Yet, only about half of students who eat a free or reduced price school lunch also take advantage of school breakfast. Across the country, schools are coming up with innovative ways to overcome the barriers and ensure that children in need have a healthy start to their school day. Here are a few of the most effective solutions - Please share this list of ideas with your school and see what a difference breakfast can make for children. 1. Get creative – serve breakfast at a time and place where kids are most likely to participate Breakfast in the Classroom Just as the name implies, students eat breakfast in the classroom at the beginning of the day or during morning break time. Breakfasts can be either hot or cold, depending on a school's facilities. Breakfast in the classroom can be offered in several ways: • Students can stop by the cafeteria and pick up their breakfast in grab 'n' go bags, along with milk and then go to class. • Breakfast can be delivered to the classroom on carts. • A student representative can go to the cafeteria, pick up the breakfasts for those students eating breakfast, and take it back to the class in a cart or wagon. LEARN MORE ABOUT HUNGER IN OUR CLASSROOMS AT STRENGTH.ORG/TEACHERS Little teaching time is lost, as breakfast only takes 10 to 15 minutes for the student to eat. Many teachers use this time to take attendance, collect homework, deliver announcements or read to the class. Grab 'N' Go Breakfast Grab 'N' Go breakfasts are packaged in paper bags, boxes or trays. Students pick up their breakfast and eat it when and where they want, within school guidelines. Food service staff pack reimbursable breakfasts into individual paper bags, usually the day before, or purchase prepackaged reimbursable breakfasts in boxes. Grab 'N' Go breakfasts can be served first thing in the morning, between classes, or at a mid-morning break. Bags can be served from mobile service carts located in high traffic areas such as the school entrance, cafeteria, hallways, or near the gym. Students can take the breakfast and eat it outside, in the hall, in class, or in the cafeteria, depending on what the school decides is appropriate. There is a lot of flexibility with this method of serving breakfast, depending on the school's needs. 2. Make sure parents know and that they complete the applications – marketing can make a HUGE difference. Help families complete school meal applications using some o ideas and resources provided by the USDA: • Send a letter or flyer explaining why parents should complete the application. There are two sample letters to parents below. The first encourages parents to turn in their free and reduced price applications, and the second encourages participation in the School Breakfast Program. School meal applications can be turned in at any point during the school year, so applications and reminders can be sent home more than once. • Make sure applications are available in most languages spoken in your community. School Meal Applications, instructions and letters in 19 languages are available on the USDA Food and Nutrition Service School Meals website. • Send applications and meal pricing policies to families along with other forms and notices they need to return. • Remind parents that students who qualify for free or reduced priced lunch also qualify for free or reduced priced breakfast. • Include an envelope marked “Confidential” for application return • Follow up on students who received free or reduced price meals the prior year and have not submitted an application for the current year. Sample A: letters to parents Dear Parent, I’m writing to let you know how important it is to fill out the attached school meal application form. Some parents are concerned about listing income amounts and social security numbers on the application. Any personal information you provide will not be shared: • Free and reduced price meal applications are confidential. Your information will only be used to determine your child’s eligibility for the school meal programs. We cannot share your information without your written permission. • Students who receive free and reduced price meals are not identified. No other students, staff, or teachers need to know who is receiving free or reduced meals and who has paid. There are two important reasons to fill out this form: • If your child qualifies for free or reduced price lunches, he or she qualifies for free or reduced price breakfasts at school as well. We want to help your child eat healthy meals at school. • Your child may receive other school benefits. The number of applications that are returned and approved can affect how much funding our school gets to help students meet academic benchmarks, including materials like books and computers. Please take a few minutes to fill out this form so that your child may qualify for these important benefits. Sincerely, Principal SAMPLE B: Letter to Parents Dear Parent, This year, we need your help to make sure all of our students are fully prepared for academic success. We all know that hungry children have a more difficult time doing their best work. That’s why we encourage all students to begin the school day with a nutritious breakfast. The School Breakfast Program is available to all students every weekday morning. You do not have to register your child in advance. Your child can eat breakfast at school every day or only occasionally. School breakfast makes good sense – it provides ¼ of your child’s nutritional needs, meets Dietary Guidelines recommendations, and offers children a chance to eat breakfast with their friends School Breakfast is an ideal solution on busy mornings when kids are running late or parents have to be at work early. Whatever the reason, if breakfast at home is not convenient, please have your child take advantage of breakfast here at school. Thank you for helping us to make sure that all of our students start the school day alert, well fed and ready to learn. Sincerely, Principal 1. Break down the stigma: Make breakfast participation about a great way to start the day – not a program for low-income students. Following is a sample article for the school newsletter or newspaper courtesy of USDA. Sample Article for School Newsletter or newspaper EAT BREAKFAST AT SCHOOL! Mornings can be really crazy…the alarm doesn’t go off…the kids don’t want to get up…there’s no time to eat breakfast before the bus comes…or they’re just not ready to eat. Or maybe your teenager grabs a can of soda and a candy bar on the way to school. If this sounds like your house, we have good news for you. Breakfast is served at school! School breakfast will give your child a healthy start to the day. A nutritious breakfast helps students be more alert so they can learn more in class. Breakfast has vitamins and nutrients for a strong and healthy body. Breakfast at school is affordable, too. If you qualify for free and reduced price meals, you also qualify for the breakfast program, with no additional paperwork. You can’t find a healthy breakfast at such a low cost anywhere else. Help your child start the day right with school breakfast! Desayuno en la Escuela Las mañanas pueden ser algo difíciles…la alarma no suena…los niños no se quieren levantar…no hay tiempo para desayunar, el bus ya va llegando…o quizás los niños no tienen hambre. O tal vez el joven se lleva un chocolate y una soda para comer en camino a la escuela. Si esto pasa en tu casa, ¡tenemos buenas noticias! ¡Los niños pueden desayunar en la escuela! Sus niños pueden comenzar el día saludablemente al comer el desayuno en la escuela. Un desayuno saludable ayuda a los estudiantes estar más alertos, y así aprender más. El desayuno tiene vitaminas y nutrientes para un cuerpo fuerte. Y el desayuno en las escuelas no cuesta mucho. Si ya calificas para comidas gratis o comidas a precio reducido, también calificas para el Programa de Desayunos Escolares y no tienes que llenar más formularios 2. Make breakfast a priority for your school –Create a breakfast task force or committee with the goal of learning and implementing best practices to increase participation. Find more great marketing resources from Share Our Strength at http://strength.org/teachers. And for additional resources, visit USDA School Breakfast Program website at http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/breakfast/expansion/marketingreso urces.htm.
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