Jun 18, 2013 • By

Fueling new ways to get breakfast to students

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. One place this is increasingly apparent is in our nation’s schools where research shows a positive correlation between kids who eat breakfast and improved academic achievement, attendance and behavior.

For the past five years, General Mills Foodservice has helped schools boost breakfast participation through the National Dairy Council Fuel Up Breakfast grant program, which has awarded $325,000 to more than 100 schools since 2009.

Many of the schools have used the funds to add alternative ways to serve breakfast to kids outside of the cafeteria, which gives more kids access to a healthy breakfast at a hectic time of day.

Giving kids a second chance to eat

At Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, N.C., students arrive at school between 6:45 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. Many kids are not hungry yet or are in a rush to get to class so eating is not a priority.

“Students are not always awake and ready for breakfast at this time,” said Marilyn Johnson, child nutrition manager at the school.

After getting reports of students sent to the nurse’s office with headaches and stomachaches because they had not eaten breakfast, Johnson recognized changes needed to be made.

Armed with a Fuel Up grant, Johnson purchased a computer with wireless Internet access that allows students to retrieve their lunch accounts from different areas of the building where breakfast is now served throughout the morning.

Johnson credits the “second chance breakfast” for helping to bridge the time until lunch is served to keep students fueled so they can focus on learning.

Breakfast earns extra credit at schools

While there is ample research supporting the healthful benefits of breakfast for people of all ages, the first meal of the day is earning extra credit at schools that see the impact it has on students’ behavior and concentration levels throughout the morning.

In addition, kids who eat breakfast tend to have fewer disciplinary issues and reduced absenteeism.

“We have been pleasantly surprised that students are behaving better since we expanded our breakfast in the classroom program,” said David Gutierrez, director of Child Nutrition Services at Ennis school district in Texas, which used the school’s breakfast grant to purchase insulated bags and coolers to get breakfast to students who are served and eat in their classrooms.

Schools may apply for up to $2,000

Now through July 26, schools in the U.S. may apply to receive up to $2,000 to help put their breakfast plan into action for the 2013-14 school year. The grants are available to schools participating in the National School Breakfast and enrolled in the National Dairy Council “Fuel Up to Play 60” program.

A total of $50,000 will be distributed for schools to use to enhance their breakfast programs and increase participation through programs such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Second Chance Breakfast or Grab & Go.

Schools must have the support of their school principal, district school nutrition director and school nutrition manager, have school enrollment of at least 500 and breakfast participation of less than 40 percent.

If you know of a school that could benefit from a grant to grow it’s breakfast program, please share the link to the National Dairy Council Fuel Up grant application today.