October 09, 2013

Why is Breakfast in the Classroom an Important Program?

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Last spring, our Grants department visited Shenandoah Elementary School (part of Los Angeles Unified School District) to observe the Breakfast in the Classroom program.

Breakfast in the Classroom is a relatively new program that quite literally, brings breakfast into the classroom in elementary schools with large percentages of students on free or reduced lunches. Breakfast is served at the beginning of the day and the whole process takes about 15 minutes. Typically, two children pick up carts with all of the breakfast items, hand them out to the other students and then when everyone is done eating, they wipe down the desks, put all of the trash back in the cart and return it to the kitchen. Some teachers use this time to create a family-style meal with conversation, others play music or take roll, all of which help build a sense of community in classrooms. 

While there is still plenty of reluctance to adopt this program in some school districts, many teachers are surprised by how little work it creates. (Some teachers initially fear it will be an added burden to their already busy day.) 

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Universal Breakfast is a good program, but Breakfast in the Classroom is preferred for a few reasons. 

  • Participation rates are nearly 100%, compared to 50% and it completely removes the stigma attached with eating breakfast in the cafeteria prior to school and away from peers
  • Children learn more, yielding higher math and reading scores, sharper memories, broader vocabularies and better focus and behavior 
  • Children are healthier: lower absence rates, less likely to see the school nurse and less likely to be overweight

Learn more about Breakfast in the Classroom: http://www.breakfastintheclassroom.org/about-the-program.html