Celebrate National School Breakfast Week 2014 and teach your students how making time for a morning fuel-up offers energy and strength to get through their day. It’s not unusual for students, teachers, school nutrition professionals and other staff to feel like time is at a premium throughout the typical day. How those limited hours are spent is an ongoing debate in one district after another, with competing concerns for more instructional time, more interactive learning time, more time to eat, more time for physical activity, more time for one-on-one mentoring, more time for administrative responsibilities and so on. In the midst of any busy school day, however, there’s one priority that should rise to the top of the list, one thing that definitely shouldn’t be skimped on in the interest of time—breakfast. Whether students (and staff) enjoy breakfast in the classroom or in the cafeteria, whether they eat before or after first period, a nutritious morning meal is just what they need to jumpstart the day in a healthy way. The a.m. meal provides the energy needed to manage the limitations of their school time and rise to be at their very best. Eating breakfast regularly at school is a terrific opportunity to learn firsthand why it is the most important meal of the day. And there’s no better occasion to teach students, teachers and the entire school community the value of making time for breakfast than National School Breakfast Week (NSBW), March 3-7, 2014. The theme for NSBW 2014 is “Take Time for School Breakfast,” a critical message at a critical time. As experts in school nutrition, you play an important role in not only delivering this message throughout the community but in making available delicious and nutritious breakfasts to hungry students. Of the Essence Your role is so vital because, of course, you know better than any the reasons to promote eating breakfast at school and the benefits that doing so provides to students, their teachers, the community and your program. Though many children may grab breakfast at home, there’s significant evidence that eating a nutritious breakfast at school can help ensure that all students fill the hunger gap between the start of their school day and lunchtime. Numerous studies confirm that students who eat breakfast at school perform better academically and are better behaved in the classroom; absenteeism and tardies decrease; standardized test scores improve. Students who eat breakfast, whether at home or at school, also demonstrate broader vocabularies, higher math and reading scores, improved memory and faster speeds on cognitive tests. Specifically, research released by Share Our Strength in partnership with Deloitte last month found that kids who eat school breakfast attend one and a half more days of school per year, achieve 17.5% higher math scores than students who do not eat school breakfast; in addition, they are 20% more likely to graduate from high school. School breakfast plays a particularly significant role for children of low-income families, for whom the morning meal is an essential way to help relieve hunger. Schools that offer universal breakfast-in-the-classroom service to all students can help to remove any stigma associated with free/reduced-price eligibility. But while many schools do offer classroom breakfast, participation in School Breakfast Program (SBP) remains far lower than it is for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). In most states, fewer than 60 of the 100 children who eat school lunch also eat school breakfast (see page 8). Those comparatively low breakfast participation numbers make NSBW an important campaign to promote throughout the entire district, at all grade levels. And if you serve breakfast mostly in the cafeteria, let NSBW be an ideal occasion to experiment with different forms of breakfast service. In addition to trying out breakfast delivered to classrooms, consider setting up carts in the school lobby, bus drop-off points or other central areas where students can take grab ‘n’ go items. Not enough time for kids to squeeze in breakfast before homeroom? Work with your principal to pilot a short “second chance breakfast” break offered after first period. Check out the School Nutrition Foundation’s “Beyond Breakfast” blog (http://beyondbreakfast.org) for innovative best practices from around the United States. Regardless of exactly what time in the morning they’re served school breakfast, students need continual reminders about how important this meal is to achieving both today’s goals—and tomorrow’s dreams. By taking time for a morning breakfast break, they’ll have the nutrients and energy they need to keep going strong all day long. Another benefit of school breakfast (one that may resonate especially well with teenagers) is the awareness that eating upon arrival on campus will give them a precious few more minutes of sleep at home! While you’re reaching out to your students to promote the importance of breakfast and the ease of eating at school, don’t forget to share these virtues with their parents. After all, many parents bemoan the traditional struggle of getting kids organized and out the door on time each morning; they might find it quite a relief to know that a nutritious, filling meal is available to their children at school! Time to Review Resources Need help spreading your message to all stakeholders in your community? Visit the SNA member resources website, www.schoolnutrition.org/nsbw. There, you will find the official “Take Time for School Breakfast” Toolkit, made available with support from Kellogg’s Food Away From Home. The Toolkit features a terrific array of promotional materials, including backpack brochures, press releases and banner ads for your district website and more. You also will find celebration ideas and downloadable activity sheets. The website also is your source for suggested menus, developed specifically for NSBW 2014. You’ll find ideas that can fit virtually any style of breakfast service, from traditional cafeteria offerings to grab ‘n’ go to breakfast in the classroom. Each menu has been developed in an effort to reflect SNA’s commitment to helping its members meet new meal pattern requirements. While these suggestions may prove helpful in managing your own busy NSBW to-do list, you also are encouraged to spend time brainstorming with your team to create the breakfast menus that you think best reflect both the operational needs of your cafeteria and the preferences of your students. Be sure to check out the NSBW-themed merchandise available for 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 allow you to spread the message to students all year long that they should “Take Time for School Breakfast.” Time to Get Creative Are the seeds of some creative promotional ideas already taking shape as you read this article? While the length of the breakfast period or the location where it is served may not provide many opportunities for games and contests, NSBW messages don’t have to be limited to promotion only at breakfast! You can publicize NSBW at lunch, as well. And creative menu names and cafeteria decorations can definitely set the stage for an unforgettable annual event! Following are some suggested ideas that will help put the spotlight on your NSBW 2014 plans. Whether you incorporate ideas based on a literal clock, use the notion of time conceptually or create new opportunities for students to enjoy some additional social time with their friends, there are many ways you can create a memorable weeklong event for your entire school community. • Use a time or clock theme to give menu items special names during NSBW. As examples, A.M. Jumpstart Omelet, Time Travel Toast and It’s Your Time to Shine Sausage all will lend added special flair to traditional breakfast fare. • Ask students to write a short essay about what era of the past (or future!) they would like to visit if time travel were possible. • Encourage your cafeteria team, teachers and students to think about what they would like to accomplish with an extra 30 minutes in the day. Ask them to reflect honestly on any time wasters throughout the day that they could pass up, especally if it would allow them to spend more time on their preferred activities. • Play music in serving/dining areas that ties into the concept of time. Consider such songs as “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets, “Good Time” by Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen, “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band, “Clocks” by Coldplay, “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce, “Time” by Creed,” “Time of My Life” by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes, “Time After Time,” by Cyndi Lauper, “Time Is Love” by Josh Turner or “Time” by Ne-Yo. • Talk to your school’s history teachers about current lesson plans. Are students studying periods of history that can be tied to a cafeteria promotion? Perhaps you can team up to present a lesson on popular meals during those periods. • Looking for another way to offer history lessons in your cafeteria classroom? Go online to find out about historical events that took place during March 3-7 throughout time and create “Did you know?” timeline posters in the cafeteria. For example, Florida became the 27th state on March 3, 1845, Zachary Taylor was sworn in as our 12th President on March 5, 1849, and Monopoly was invented on March 7, 1933. • Seek out your school’s foreign language teachers to learn how to say time- and breakfast-related expressions such as, “Take time for breakfast,” “It’s time for breakfast” and “It’s [the time that breakfast is served at your school] o’clock.” Then, create signs and table decorations with these phrases. Also, you may find inspiration in the activities coordinated for past NSBW celebrations. [Editors’ Note: See “Good as Gold,” November 2012.] Even reports from NSLW events (see “Cookin’ Up Some Fantastic Fun,” page 34) can provide great fodder for promotional creativity. Fuel Around the Clock While increased participation in your program is a key goal, a major aim of any cafeteria promotion, but especially one tied to school breakfast, is to showcase the benefits of the federal meal program and your specific school nutrition operation to the entire community. As noted, with the number of students who eat school breakfast being much lower than those who participate in the NSLP, anything you can do to spread the word about the importance and availability of SBP meals can lead to a valuable boost in both breakfast participation numbers and awareness. Administrators, teachers, parents, child health advocates, legislators, the media and other stakeholders—these are all essential members of the community who 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 to target traditional and social media venues with details about your celebrations so that your message reaches all key audiences. Notify your local media (TV, radio and print, including school newspapers) several weeks in advance. (The official NSBW Toolkit offers a number of media resources to help you out.) And, of course, social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter can be quite powerful tools in getting the word out. To further spread the message about the good things your operation is doing when it comes to school breakfast, consider submitting a success story to Tray Talk (www.TrayTalk.org), SNA’s public awareness website. One of the great things about the school nutrition profession is the lack of competition among operators—your school, the district in the next town and those far across the country all share the same goal: feeding kids. With that in mind, 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/nsbw website. You could be eligible to win “Take Time for School Breakfast” stickers to distribute to your students as part of this limited-time sweepstakes. School Nutrition also invites you to share a brief report and photos of your NSBW activities and events next spring for possible inclusion in our annual recap article or on SNA’s Facebook page. (We’ll remind you again and provide contact information next year.) Time After Time Whether you serve breakfast from a kiosk in your school’s front lobby, invite students to the cafeteria or deliver it to your customers in their classrooms, the NSBW 2014 “Take Time for School Breakfast” theme is an important opportunity to remind your community of the essential jumpstart that the first meal of the day provides. So, get started now on planning some creative ideas so that when NSBW is behind you, everyone involved in making this campaign a successful event will look back and exclaim, “A good time was had by all!” The 2014 NSBW Preview was written and compiled by Cecily Walters, managing editor of School Nutrition.
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