One of the biggest hurdles to implementing breakfast in the classroom (BIC) can be gaining the support of administration and staff. Shelley Chenausky, director of Child Nutrition Services at Socorro Independent School District (SISD) in El Paso, Texas, can relate. When rolling out BIC about six years ago, her team needed to work in stages to launch the program on a school-by-school basis—carefully planning with staff at each location to assess their unique needs and gather input along the way.
“It helped to start with the Superintendent whose support trickled down,” said Chenausky. “Breakfast in the classroom takes a team approach that requires the buy-in of administration, foodservice staff, teachers and other campus employees such as custodians.”
Chenausky shared some of the key factors that helped SISD’s Child Nutrition Services department garner support from the top down in her district, where they now offer free breakfast via BIC at every elementary and middle school:
- Offer menu items that are tailored to BIC with less mess and easy clean-up, such as pre-packaged, individually wrapped items.
- Identify a delivery option that works best for each individual school. At SISD, breakfast items are delivered to the classroom via ice chests, one for hot items and one for cold items. Some schools have a breakfast club with students arriving early each day, donning a special vest and helping to deliver the food items. They are rewarded for their service with a trophy and a pizza party at the end of the school year.
- Devise a buttoned-up plan for clean-up to reassure teachers that there won’t be excess trash lingering around the classroom and inviting pests.
She also credits her staff for working to ensure teachers are comfortable with the process of claiming meals. They made posters showing what a reimbursable meal looks like for each classroom and created a turnkey way for teachers to manage the process. Using a “breakfast card” for each student, teachers simply place the card in the front of a pouch if the student ate a reimbursable meal or in the back of the pouch if they did not. The pouches then travel with the ice chests back to the cafeteria for the cashier to tabulate.
The efforts of SISD’s Child Nutrition Services staff to engage leadership and staff at the initial stages and maintain an ongoing dialogue are paying off with breakfast participation on the rise.
“Above all, it takes being very thorough with planning so you can be ready for all the logistics,” said Chenausky.
To helps schools interested in making a case for breakfast as part of the school day with programs such as BIC, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign offers a number of resources. Visit the Center for Best Practices at www.NoKidHungry.org to access tools such as:
- Breakfast in the Classroom Myths: This resource helps to dispel some of the common misperceptions about serving breakfast in the classroom.
- Pre-Implementation Checklist: Find out how to transition from a traditional model to Breakfast After the Bell, including the importance of training for key stakeholders, an implementation plan and connecting with other schools to share best practices.
- Breakfast in the Classroom in Arkansas Video: A video that showcases the power and importance of BIC.