Operation Success: Gwinnett County Public Schools (metro Atlanta)

New cereal cups help boost breakfast participation and increase milk consumption.
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Sometimes a small change can make a big difference. When Gwinnett County Public Schools recently introduced General Mills Foodservice’s 2-oz.-equivalent grain cereal cups on school menus, the district saw breakfast participation soar with an additional 4,000 to 5,000 students eating breakfast daily.

General Mills began offering five of the top K-12 cereals in the new format this past year in order to give school foodservice programs a convenient option to meet the 2 grains requirement with one product.

Karen Hallford, director of the School Nutrition Program at Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), says that her staff introduced the new format last spring for National School Breakfast Week and the cereal cups were an immediate hit.

“Our cereal sales went through the roof,” said Hallford, adding that the format’s bigger size and eye-catching packaging appealed to students as did the fact that the cups made it easier to eat the cereal with milk—the way kids are used to enjoying cereal at home.

She adds that with more students eating cereal and taking milk to go with it, there was also a welcome increase in milk consumption by students. “We saw a 10 percent uptick in milk sales each week, beginning with National School Breakfast Week, and it continued through the end of the school year.”

Breakfast Staples
Hallford and her GCPS staff manage a large district with 180,000 students spread out over 132 schools which all offer breakfast—serving approximately 64,000 students breakfast on any given day.

“Some schools offer traditional breakfast in the cafeteria, others have express breakfast at kiosks or breakfast in the classroom,” says Hallford. “It’s important to be flexible and let the schools decide what method works best for their location.”

However, when it comes to the breakfast menu, the district likes to keep a routine with a one-week menu cycle. “We serve a number of classics and the staples that kids count on,” she says.

Beyond cereal, regular menu items include breakfast sandwiches made with biscuits and chicken sausage, donut bites, pancakes and sausage on a stick, and bagels with sausage gravy.

Hallford says her staff was eager to try the new cereal cups and the opportunity to offer one product instead of two in order to meet grain requirement.. Previously the district had to give students both a cereal pouch and a grain bar to meet requirements, resulting in a lot of waste.

The district is going to use the successful cereal cups as part of its “brunch for lunch” menu this coming school year. She says the cereal will help to complement a vegetarian option that will also include yogurt, string cheese and milk.

The 2-oz.-equivalent grain cups come in five varieties for K-12 schools: Cinnamon Toast Crunch™ 25% Less Sugar, Cocoa Puffs™ 25% Less Sugar, Lucky Charms™, Honey Nut Cheerios™ and Cinnamon Chex™.

For more information, K-12 foodservice directors can contact their General Mills Foodservice sales representative, call 1-800-243-5687 or visit www.generalmillscf.com.