National school breakfast week has been around since 1989. It was initially launched as a way to raise awareness about the availability of breakfast at school and highlight the link between breakfast and cognitive growth. It still is an excellent way to market and promote school breakfast but it has become a way to celebrate schools and breakfast and kids too. The SNA has a website with all sorts of fun suggestions for activities. Check out the fruit origami!
As wonderful as that week of celebration is, even more inspirational to me is the quiet, day in and day out efforts of operators to give students a healthy start to their day.
I am frequently in a neighborhood elementary school in the early morning before the students arrive. I am part of a group of faith-based organizations which partner with the KidPack program. KidPack is one of a number of groups working to provide small bags of nonperishable, healthy and fun foods to help children who might otherwise go hungry over the weekend. When it is my group’s turn to provide the bags, I help set-up and pack the bags and then make the deliveries on Friday mornings. Several of us meet to roll tall stacks of tubs filled with brown paper bags down the hallways. We stop at each classroom to deliver bags that will be passed out at the end of the day.
It is a quiet, reflective time for me. I enjoy being a part of the hum of activity as this little school prepares for the start of a new day. I take in the children's artwork lining the halls and marvel at the distinct, inviting personality each of the teachers creates for their own classroom. I enjoy seeing the cafeteria staff back behind the kid-sized serving line, laughing and going about their daily prep. Starting my day in the elementary school grounds me in what is truly important and reinforces my love of working in a job that supports school foodservice.
Often, right before I leave, I get to see the staff rolling out their laden breakfast carts. They have a relatively simple but creative approach to providing breakfast. They stock two carts which are rolled out and stationed in each of the hallways. As the students come in, they can easily grab breakfast to take with them into the classroom. The carts are inviting, the food is appealing and the women are warm and friendly. I love seeing how these children are nourished - both their tummies and their spirits. National School Breakfast Week is celebrated once a year but the steadfast work of feeding children breakfast is repeated in schools every single day all across the country. That daily dedication truly deserves celebrating too. So join me in raising a milk carton to toast our School Breakfast Heros!!