Yesterday, I observed one of the many schools offering Breakfast in the Classroom in Colorado. I was at the STRIVE Preparatory School’s Highlands campus, where they just implemented the innovative serving model this fall.
Jessica and Ambrosia—the two kitchen staff charged with preparing and delivering hundreds of breakfasts to students in classrooms this year—worked like veterans already. They quickly invited us to help load coolers with juices and milks. Twenty-three juices and six milk cartons seemed to be the right number per classroom, based on the kids’ preferences. We stacked them on two carts, alongside insulated bags of the day’s entree: the ever-popular French toast with baked-in syrup, coming contained and heated in a bag. Students who preferred a cold item could choose a granola bar entrée instead. (Other student favorites include homemade egg and sausage biscuits, breakfast burritos and cereal.)
A few student volunteers helped Jessica and Ambrosia wheel the breakfasts to each classroom, with the carts heading-off in opposite directions. The coolers and bins were set on a chair or table inside the classroom, right before students began trickling in. Teachers are asked to mark a student roster, included in the bin, when a child takes a complete breakfast. Soon, everyone was settled and eating quietly, and by the time we had finished asking a few questions to the kitchen staff, the students had already finished and begun setting coolers and bins back on the carts in the hallway!
It was great to see Breakfast in the Classroom function so seamlessly after just a few months of trying it out—and I’m not surprised. Almost all of the schools using this model that I’ve spoken with say it only takes about a month to work out smooth it all out and offer a healthy breakfast at every student’s desk!
In my mind, Breakfast in the Classroom and other innovative serving models like Grab and Go and Breakfast After First Period beat the hassle many families encounter when trying to get their children to school early enough to enjoy a before-the-bell breakfast. The kitchen staff admitted they had to overcome some initial challenges, such as getting the numbers right in each classroom to reduce waste and identifying what menu items students like the most. Now, the STRIVE school’s kitchen staff receive thank-you notes from teachers for the great work that they do and for helping increase students’ capacity to learn.
I’m excited to see how the teamwork continues between students and staff for breakfast and beyond at STRIVE and other schools!
Abby Isaacson, MPH, serves as one of the Breakfast Expansion Ambassadors for Hunger Free Colorado. Learn more about the organization and school breakfast programs by visit www.hungerfreecolorado.org.