Celebrate National School Breakfast Week 2013 and teach your students how the morning meal can help them to shine. Kids in school today have an awareness honed over a decade of reality television competitions that reinforce the idea that anyone with a dream has a shot at being the next “American Idol,” the next “Voice,” the next “Top Chef,” the next “Fashion Star” and so on. They’ve also seen that you can be a seasonlong benchwarmer today, but cause “Lin-sanity” throughout professional basketball tomorrow. They have witnessed how quickly a YouTube video can go viral, eventually leading to a worldwide epidemic of “Bieber Fever.” They have marveled at the success of a writer who built a billion-dollar fortune on her very first novel about a bespectacled boy wizard. What they may not realize is that even so-called “overnight success stories” work hard for their achievements, investing hours and hours in persistent dedication to their particular passion. That kind of success will elude those who find themselves dragging through the day, because the effort it takes to earn that kind of success often is fueled as much by healthy behaviors as it is by grit and determination. In short, prioritizing healthy choices is a critical first step on the road to stardom. And eating a nutritious breakfast at the start of the day is a critical first step in prioritizing healthy choices. And a guaranteed place to be served a nutritious breakfast? School, of course! And there’s no better time to celebrate the role that school breakfast can play in helping the stars of tomorrow to shine than National School Breakfast Week (NSBW), March 4-8, 2013. The theme for NSBW 2013 is “Be a Star With School Breakfast,” a straightforward, upbeat message that is sure to resonate with students at all grade levels. And as “stars” of school nutrition, you are in a unique position to make this year’s campaign one that truly sparkles. Glow & Grow School nutrition professionals hardly need to be reminded of reasons to promote eating breakfast at school. You know better than most the benefits school breakfast provides to students, their teachers, the community and your program. While many parents make sure their children get some sustenance between rolling out of bed and rushing out to the bus, there’s ample evidence that a nutritious school breakfast can be an important stopgap for all students in a long, busy morning. Studies show that students who eat breakfast at school perform better academically and demonstrate better behavior in the classroom; absenteeism and tardies drop; standardized test scores rise. Students who eat the morning meal—at home or school— also demonstrate broader vocabularies, higher math and reading scores, improved memory and faster speed on cognitive tests. And for children of low-income families, school breakfast is an essential hunger-relief measure, providing this critical meal to students who may be at risk of starting their day hungry or malnourished. By offering universal breakfast in the classroom to all students, schools can help to eliminate any stigma associated with free/reduced-price eligibility. (“Good Mornings,” beginning on page 48, highlights many of the specific benefits of school breakfast, while detailing the positive experiences of five large districts that were recipients of grant money from the Walmart Foundation to implement breakfast-in-the-classroom programs.) Still, participation in school breakfast lags far, far behind school lunch. That’s why NSBW is such an important campaign to promote throughout the entire district, at all grade levels. Students need to be reminded how important breakfast is to achieving their goals in school and in life. To be a “star” in class, in sports, in the arts or in any pursuit they choose, they need morning fuel to stay sharp. Reach for the Stars How will you help the youngsters in your school reach for the stars during NSBW? Your first stop should be the SNA member resources website, www.schoolnutrition.org/star. There, you will find the official “Be a Star With School Breakfast” Toolkit, made available with support from Kellogg’s Food Away From Home. The Toolkit features a wide array of celebration ideas and support materials, including downloadable activity sheets, backpack brochures, press releases, banner ads for your district website and more. The website also is your source for this year’s official menus, developed specifically for NSBW 2013. There’s something for virtually any style of breakfast service, from traditional cafeteria offerings to grab ‘n’ go to breakfast in the classroom. Each menu was developed in an effort to reflect SNA’s commitment to meeting the newly released meal patterns. And while you are encouraged to try out our suggestions, remember that you can create your own NSBW menus to best reflect both the operational needs of your individual cafeteria and the preferences of your student customers. Be sure to check out the NSBW-themed merchandise you can purchase from the SNA Emporium, http://emporium.schoolnutrition.org. In addition to decorative materials (posters, balloons, aprons, t-shirts, buttons), you will find great giveaways, such as bookmarks, pencils and stadium cups, that will remind students all year long that they can “Be a Star With School Breakfast.” Star Quality This year’s NSBW theme lends itself well to your creative promotional ideas, from menu names to cafeteria decorations to participatory activities. And while you probably don’t have much discretionary time at breakfast to engage children in games, contests and the like, keep in mind that NSBW messages aren’t limited to promotion only at breakfast time! There’s no reason you can’t publicize NSBW at lunch, too. Following are some suggested ideas that will help brighten up your NSBW 2013 plans. Whether you leverage the star quality of sports and entertainment celebrities or reference the stars in the heavens, you can create a weeklong event that your school community will not soon forget! • Use a star or astronomy theme to give menu items special names during NSBW. For example, Opening Act Omelet, Center Stage Cereal or Spotlight Sausage and Eggs will give extra fl air to everyday fare. • Decorate the cafeteria with adhesive-backed, glow-in-the-dark stars and leave the lights off or dim when students come to breakfast. • Cut out large stars and paste a reflective mirror square in the middle of each. Label them, “The Next Star of [NAME OF YOUR SCHOOL],” and post them at student height where children line up to get their morning meal. • Play music in serving/dining areas that ties into metaphorical and literal star themes. This could range from “Jukebox Hero” by Foreigner and [the radio-friendly version of] Nickelback’s “Rockstar” to “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles and “Lucky Star” by Madonna. • Work with teachers to conduct a talent contest to be scheduled during NSBW, if possible. Or, arrange for the contest to be held in the fall or winter; record it and show the recording on television screens in the cafeteria during NSBW. • Ask students to write a short essay about the kind of “star” they want to be when they grow up. • Post a super-large sheet of paper on the wall and invite kids to write on it with the names of stars they admire. You could make it totally free form or give parameters, such as local school stars, stars of entertainment, stars in the sports world, stars who also are kids—or the stars working in the school cafeteria! • Identify a “star of the day” from each class or grade. The criteria can be based on nominations from teachers, or maybe it’s an honor given to a child who just gives you a big smile early in the morning. Recognize this “star” in one or more ways, such as with signage, on your Facebook page or by presenting them with a giveaway or a special button or pin. Also, you may find inspiration in the activities coordinated for past NSBW celebrations. [Editors’ Note: See “Mission Accomplished!,” November 2011.] Even reports from NSLW events (see “Oh, the Places We Grow,” page 30) can be great fuel for promotional creativity. Planning to attend SNA’s Annual National Conference in Denver this summer? Don’t miss a special education session on NSBW; it will feature even more tools and tips. Twinkle, Twinkle While increased participation in your program is a top goal, a key aim of any cafeteria promotion—but especially school breakfast—is to tout the benefits of your program to the entire community. Considering that only one-third of students who participate in the National School Lunch Program also eat school breakfast, it’s impossible to overpromote the value of this critical child nutrition program. Administrators, teachers, parents, child health advocates, legislators, the media and other stakeholders need to understand how important it is for your school to offer breakfast service and for children to participate. In addition to materials that will promote your NSBW activities to parents and the school community, make sure you target your public relations efforts at other key audiences. Notify your local media (TV, radio and print, including school newspapers) several weeks in advance. (The NSBW Toolkit offers a number of media resources to help you out.) Don’t overlook the power of Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels to get the word out. To help spread messages about school breakfast even further, consider submitting a success story about your school breakfast program to Tray Talk (www.TrayTalk.org), SNA’s public awareness website. Also, since there is no profession so renowned for sharing its creativity and innovations in support of the greater good than school nutrition, please take some time to tell your peers what you have planned for your NSBW celebration via a special section of the www.schoolnutrition.org/star website. You could be eligible to win “Be a Star With School Breakfast” stickers to distribute to your young customers in this limited-time sweepstakes. School Nutrition also invites you to share a brief report and photos of your NSBW activities and events for inclusion in our annual recap article. (We’ll remind you again and provide contact information next spring.) Shine On “Be a Star With School Breakfast.” That message certainly applies to the students you want to reach—but it also applies to you, the school nutrition professionals who work hard to make breakfast (and lunch) nothing short of heavenly. NSBW 2013 is the perfect occasion for everyone to shine!
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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