The School Breakfast Program (SBP) has come a long way since its inception in 1966 when it was established as a two year pilot program. Although rules and regulations for the SBP have changed in the last half century, the program’s core principles remain unchanged. Breakfast is essential for growing students, as it provides the nutrients their bodies desperately need. In addition to nutritional needs, eating breakfast lowers the rate of school absences, school nurse visits, behavior related issues, and academic difficulties. Furthermore, students who eat an adequate and nutritious breakfast perform better on tests and demanding mental tasks, have better attendance, and are better able to focus. Not only does breakfast in general improve the overall emotional state and academic performance in students, but students who eat breakfast closer to class and test taking time, perform better on standardized tests than those who skip breakfast or eat breakfast at home. For many families in Arizona, providing a well-balanced breakfast for students in the morning can be a challenge due to lack of time and/or money. School Breakfast Programs provide a way for students to have access to the morning nutrition they need for both healthy growth and academic performance.
To emphasize how important School Breakfast is in the state of Arizona, former Governor Jan Brewer has signed a School Breakfast Proclamation which can be found here:
School breakfast meals must contain a whole-grain rich product, a fruit, and milk. Meat/Meat Alternates can also be offered in addition to the daily grain, fruit, and milk. For details on the School breakfast meal pattern for the various grade groups, visit the Meal Pattern Page and download the School Breakfast Meal Pattern Chart. Offer Versus Serve (OVS) is optional at breakfast, but can be a great option that promotes student choice and can help minimize waste. More information about OVS is also available on the Meal Pattern Page.
Looking for some new entrée’s to add to your breakfast menu? Check out this great breakfast cookbook with meal pattern crediting from the Idaho Department of Education! School Breakfast Cookbook
Schools who participate in the School Breakfast Program must inform families of the availability of breakfasts served just prior to or at the beginning of the school year. Participating schools should also provide reminders to families multiple times throughout the year. This can be done through the public address systems or any other means normally used to communicate with households. Per USDA guidance, this outreach should include more than sending home a breakfast menu. A few possible examples include:
- A flyer or brochure home with students in their welcome back packets containing information about the times breakfast is available and the cost (if applicable);
- Flyers or handouts during meet the teacher night and open house nights;
- Electronic materials sent to families via e-mail (inclusion in school e-newsletters or announcements, posted on the school website homepage);
- Reminders on the school marquee sign throughout the year;
- Menus home throughout the year with reminders about the times and locations where breakfast is available.
See Memo CN 04-12 for more information about the outreach requirements related to the School Breakfast Program.
Not only is breakfast important for helping children (and adults!) consume nutrients that are critical for health and development, but much research has been done looking at how breakfast, or lack thereof, and school breakfast in particular impact academic performance and behavior. The outcomes have been overwhelmingly positive. The documents below contain information about outcomes from this research are available in the reports below. ADE encourages School Food Service Directors and School Nutrition Staff to share this information with parents, teachers and administrators so that all students can be encouraged to start the day with breakfast at school!
Breakfast is an important part of a healthy school day, and participation can be increased by implementing an alternative service model, making minor changes to your cafeteria operation, planning exciting events during National School Breakfast Week and participating the Dairy Council of Arizona’s School Breakfast Promotion!
National School Breakfast Week
This year’s theme was Wake Up to School Breakfast, and schools around the state celebrated between February 29 and March 11. Here’s a recap of ADE’s Second Annual Celebrity Celebration.
- The School Nutrition Association has toolkits, graphics, and communication materials.
- SNA develops a social media tip sheet
In 2015, ADE helped schools Make the Grade with School Breakfast with a short commercial and celebrity celebration
Other resources to help increase participation in school breakfast
Alternative Service Models involve moving the point of service to a location outside of the cafeteria. Below are fact sheets for two alternative service models.
Breakfast in the Classroom is another alternate service model and ADE has worked in partnership with the Valley of the Sun United Way and the Dairy Council of Arizona to create a Breakfast in the Classroom Toolkit. Click here to download a copy of the toolkit and see the additional resources available to help get you started with BIC.
Action for Healthy Kids is sponsoring a School Breakfast Video contest highlighting alternative school breakfast services and your school could win up to $5,000! Click here for more information!
Grant funds for School Breakfast
There are several organizations offering grant funds to help with the start-up costs associated with implementing an alternative service model or increasing participation.