By Shannon N. Goff 2014-10-28 11:19:42
Schools across the nation stopped the clock to celebrate National School Breakfast Week 2014. March 3-7, 2014, ended the countdown to National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) 2014, as school nutrition professionals raced against time to prep their themed menus, display fun decorations and create special morning promotions. This year’s “Take Time for School Breakfast” theme offered an amazing diversity of time-centric celebrations, from cafeteria staffers and their student customers who “time traveled” with imaginative costumes from the past to wild predictions of what breakfast might be like a century from now in 3014. Other creative contests, memorable visitors and delicious meals—including on-trend parfait stations—prompted thousands to take a minute to appreciate the importance of a nutritious morning meal. Take a look at just a few of the schools and districts who had time on their side for NSBW 2014. The Big Time Everyone at Adams Elementary School, Coon Rapids, Minn., paused in their busy day to play host to an event organized by the School Breakfast Initiative to launch the 2014-15 School Breakfast Challenge. A partnership between Hunger-Free Minnesota and the Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota, the School Breakfast Initiative received incredible financial gifts of support from the General Mills Foundation and the Cargill Foundation. These and other donations, estimated near $1 million,are funding efforts to expand School Breakfast Program participation among low-income children in schools across the state. The kick-off event featured special guests from the state, including Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and Executive Director of the Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association Jon Millerhagen. Other communities were graced by the presence of various NSBW guests last March: • In South Dakota, several sites throughout the Brandon Valley School District welcomed honored guests, including the superintendent, a school board member (and local dairy farmer) and Child Nutrition Director Gay Anderson, SNS, who also serves as SNA Education Committee Chair. • Farther south, Jill Vincent, SNS, Emporia (Kan.) USD director and the former SNA Southwest regional director, paid a visit to two sites in her district— Village Elementary School and Walnut Elementary School—to help staff members start the day off right by serving healthy breakfasts to students. • At the North Plainfield (N.J.) School District, the foodservice vendor, Maschio’s Food Services, Inc., partnered with school administrators and a dietetic intern to craft a special celebration, which included a mayoral proclamation of National School Breakfast Week. Game Time Big faces in education and school nutrition weren’t the only power players visiting schools during NSBW 2014. Many schools enjoyed visits from local and professional athletes, who know very well that getting a good breakfast is an essential element for any victory. Professional football’s Minnesota Viking Blair Walsh took a trip to John Glenn Middle School, Maplewood, Minn., where he spoke about the Fuel Up to Play 60 Program (sponsored by the National Football League, the National Dairy Council and other partners) and the need to eat a healthy breakfast every day. Students at Sooner Rose Elementary School, Midwest City, Okla., hung out with Russell Westbrook and Reggie Williams, professional basketball players for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The athletes spoke to the students, took pictures with cafeteria staff and gave a special prize package to the school’s “School Breakfast in 3014” art contest winner. All the excitement contributed to a 23.37% increase in breakfast participation during the week, and an overall 10.87% maintained increase in participation in the weeks that followed. In Connecticut, Stamford High School welcomed New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich, Jr., who presented a check for more than $4,000 to the school from the New England Dairy and Food Council and Fuel Up to Play 60. College and local athletes are important role models, too. Athletes from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln visited Rousseau Elementary School, Lincoln, Neb., to share with youngsters the importance breakfast plays to the Huskers. Football players from Cook High School, Adel, Ga., helped assist cafeteria as guest servers during the week. Along with the big-time athletes who visited schools or helped out in the cafeteria staff, other celebrities shared in school breakfast festivities. Miss Gainesville visited Alachua County (Fla.) Public Schools to help with NSBW, view the children’s “Breakfast in 3014” art contest entries and speak with students during meal time. Local heroes from the Elgin Fire Department and Elgin Police Department visited Ellis Middle School, Elgin, Ill., and Long County (Ga.) Fire Department also lent out its chief and firefighters to travel to Ernestine, Ga., to help foodservice workers at Smiley Elementary School serve breakfast to students. The USDA Power Panther mascot was the special guest of the week at Gateway Preparatory Academy Charter School in Enoch, Utah, where he attended breakfast and passed along valuable nutrition and healthy activity information during a school-wide assembly. In the Southeast, a superhero by the name of “Captain Healthy” and his sidekick Milky the Cow stormed the halls of various Carrollton City (Ga.) Schools sites, spreading the word about school breakfast to students far and wide. Arguably the best guests of all are parents! Nearly every school that reported NSBW activities to SNA and School Nutrition encouraged parents to come and eat with their children at least one morning during the special week. Stop the Clock Many schools participated in SNA’s national NSBW Art Contest, inviting kids to illustrate their predictions for “Breakfast in 3014.” While the top winners were submitted to SNA, individual schools also found numerous ways to reward young artists and other students participating in a variety of NSBW games and contests. For example, in Mooresville (N.C.) Graded School District, art contest winners earned a prize pack that included a backpack, pencil and pedometer, made available with support from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. At Northside Dudley Elementary, Fairport, N.Y., the cafeteria team distributed the “Take Time for School Breakfast” school bus coloring sheets for students to color, displaying the finished drawings around the cafeteria. To honor the first anniversary of school breakfast service for third- and fourth-grade students at North Street and Louise Davy Trahan Elementary Schools in Tewksbury, Mass., students were asked to design an elementary school breakfast logo and submit their creations accompanied by a brief one-page essay on why breakfast is important. All entries were posted in the cafeterias, and students, along with a committee of staff and parents, cast their votes for a school-wide winner. The winner received an iPod Shuffle from the school nutrition department; her illustration is proudly displayed as the new elementary school breakfast logo. The school nutrition team at Bobby Ray Memorial Elementary, McMinnville, Tenn., conducted a “lucky tray” promotion during NSBW. Students receiving the coveted tray earned a prize, ranging from footballs to NSBW-themed water bottles. Not far away, students at Dyersburg (Tenn.) Intermediate School made “We ♥ School Breakfast” signs to compete for the chance to win various prizes. A funny and wildly creative competition was held in Monroe County (Ga.) Schools, where students were asked to create a rap on the importance of breakfast. One of the raps, “Breakfast is Cool!” was performed by first graders at Katherine B. Sutton Elementary. Competition wasn’t always the name of the game during NSBW 2014. The child nutrition manager at Red Oak Elementary, Oak Park, Calif., encouraged students to eat breakfast by distributing special tickets during lunch, to be submitted to a raffle at the following morning’s breakfast service. A number of prizes were awarded. The school meals staff at Tamarack Elementary School, Owensboro, Ky., promoted a “Cook with the Cooks” event, selecting students from each grade to help out in the kitchen, learning how meals are prepped in volume, but with food safety and service always in mind. This helped to raise awareness about the hard work and commitment of the Tamarack foodservice staff. Quality Time In conjunction with special contests being held throughout the week, most schools participating in NSBW served special breakfast items. Parfait stations were a common promotion at several schools, such as Cowpens (S.C.) Elementary School, which conducted a parfait preparation demonstration. Similarly, school nutrition staff in San Ysidro (Calif.) School District offered a “make-your-own parfait” option at certain sites, and report that these boosted engagement and participation. Chicken and waffles, a scrumptious southern staple, worked its way onto the breakfast menu at Cypress-Fairbanks (Texas) Independent School District. Another waffle-themed promotion, Wacky Waffle Wednesday, was held at Village Elementary School, Emporia, Kan. This sweet treat gave students the option of covering their waffles with assorted fruits and toppings. The special menu promotion was such a hit, it boosted average daily participation from 89 students to 210! A number of schools offered breakfast menu items that echoed the “Breakfast in 3014” theme, including Saturn Sausage Biscuits, Time Travel Toast and Celestial Cinnamon Rolls. Many other schools conducted taste tests for students, trying out new breakfast options. At St. Paul (Minn.) Music Academy students weighed in on various samples by placing a vote in one of two bins, marked respectively with a smiley face and a frowny face. Do The Time Warp Many school nutrition teams recognize the value of making the most of occasions like NSBW. Themed costume and decoration days are a great way to engage youngsters and they can be as easy as showing solidarity by wearing official Take Time for School Breakfast NSBW 2014 T-shirts. Special treat bags are also a common giveaway, such as the ones distributed with meals at sites in the Covington (Ky.) Independent Public Schools district; participating students discovered it contained such goodies as a superhero mask to represent the power eating breakfast can give your body and brain. Some schools like to go all out for their cafeteria promotions! Staff and students at Harlan Elementary School, Florence, Ala., worked together to design a “Rock N’ Roll with School Breakfast” theme, featuring teachers and other staff dressed in Fiftiesand Sixties-era gear, including poodle skirts, neck scarves, bobby socks and leather jackets. Special dancing sessions were held with the students, allowing them to rock around the clock, with all the energy provided by a nutritious morning meal. Those attending Irvington (Ky.) Elementary School also enjoyed a time-warped NSBW. Events included a 1950s-themed day, a 1970s day and even a “Duck Dynasty”-inspired day! Students enjoyed the flower power of the 1970s, and it was clear that many school employees went all out with their beards and camo garb for the “Duck Dynasty”-themed celebration. Some districts issued detailed calendars highlighting a bevy of NSBW events and activities. At Sycamore Community Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio, the calendar featured Milk Mustache Monday, Power up with Protein Wednesday (which invited students to wear their favorite sports jerseys and such) and a Reading Day on Friday (which promoted books about nutrition that were available in the media center). Each day emphasized a connection with nutrition, healthy breakfasts and all their benefits. The district also welcomed Cincinnati Bengals mascot Who Dey in many classrooms, raising student spirits and spreading excitement for school breakfast. The birthday anniversary (March 2) of famed children’s author Dr. Seuss always coincides with NSBW and provides a great occasion for joint activities. Cafeterias in Frisco (Texas) Independent School District featured Dr. Seuss book displays on serving counters and cut-outs of popular book characters around the dining area. Staff workers enthusiastically dressed up as such characters as Thing 1 and Thing 2, the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch and the Lorax. At Waco (Ky.) Elementary School, staff crafted handmade “truffula” trees to display around the cafeteria. In Caldwell, Idaho, the Washington Elementary School cafeteria team also showed their appreciation for the much-loved master of rhymes, by turning the kitchen door into the face of the Cat in the Hat—using the windows for eyes and placing the signature red and white hat at the top of the door frame. Of course, the classic Green Eggs-and-Ham dish was a menu item at many of these schools and others. Whether celebrating Dr. Seuss, rock ‘n’ roll, breakfast in the year 3014 or other creative NSBW connections, every school that participated made sure to convey the value of eating a nutritious breakfast at school. Some staff members at Smiley Elementary, Ernestine, Ga., may have had more fun than students, dressing as various veggies and fruits. Some schools, such as Patuxent Elementary, Upper Marlboro, Md., created bulletin board displays featuring healthy facts. Read-Patillo Elementary School, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., had a “Pot of Healthy Choices” display, full of colored-in cut-outs of the food groups and different delicious food options within those groups. Time to Shine It was clear from the wonderful pictures submitted by SNA members from coast to coast that those who promoted NSBW 2014 had the time of their lives, developing creative contests, wacky celebrations and delicious meals for the students they serve. As a result, many schools enjoyed increased participation in their breakfast program and an overall elevated interest from students. Now, it’s high time to start preparing the menus and decorations for NSBW 2015! The theme for next year’s celebration is “Make the Grade with School Breakfast,” and takes place March 2-6, 2015 (see page 64 for more details). Don’t forget, if your school celebrated National School Lunch Week (NSLW) last month, be sure to share details and photos of how your school was able to “Get in the Game With School Lunch.” Send these to School Nutrition via mail to NSLW Wrap-Up, School Nutrition, 120 Waterfront St., Suite 300, National Harbor, MD 20745, or by email to email@example.com. Your creative efforts may help to inspire other readers in the next NSLW Wrap! Shannon Goff is communications coordinator for School Nutrition.
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