From the Fulton County School District:
While all schools in Fulton County serve breakfast, 20 schools are enticing students to eat school breakfast outside of the cafeteria with a unique ‘Grab and Go’ service.
Every morning at these schools – nine elementary, seven middle and four high schools – students pick up their choice of a hot or cold bagged Grab and Go breakfast including a whole grain entrée with the choice of fresh fruit, 100% juice, and low-fat or skim milk from the cafeteria or new hallway kiosks to eat before the start of the school day. Over half of the schools offering the program also implemented ‘Breakfast in the Classroom,’ allowing students to take bagged breakfast straight to the classroom to eat.
Studies show that children who eat breakfast at school improve their test scores, increase attendance and visit the school nurse less frequently. The idea of expanding more Grab and Go breakfast programs in Fulton County Schools was sparked with a grant opportunity brought to Superintendent Robert Avossa’s attention through AASA, the School Superintendents Association and the Walmart Foundation.
As one of six urban school districts in the nation awarded AASA breakfast grant funding in the spring of 2013, the school system’s School Nutrition Department has since led its planning and implementation, working closely with each school’s local administration.
“When students come to school hungry, they are unable to concentrate and learn to their full potential,” said Alyssia Wright, executive director of the district’s School Nutrition Program. “By increasing convenient and fun access to breakfast, such as the Grab and Go and Breakfast in the Classroom programs, we see that students are more likely to eat a school breakfast and start the day ready to learn.”
Grant funds paid for start-up costs including mobile kiosks, wireless cashier equipment, vibrant and educational breakfast bags, and custodial supplies to facilitate efficient clean-up after breakfast.
“We didn’t want the program to mean more work for teachers, food service staff or custodial staff, but instead wanted it to become about learning a new routine and doing the job a little differently,” Wright added.
Multi-disciplinary School Breakfast Teams, comprised of school administration, nutrition managers, head custodians and teachers at each school, were formed and work together to make decisions and communicate as needed.
“From determining the best location of kiosks to managing the safe flow of student traffic, having a School Breakfast Team in place has helped customize the breakfast program at each school,” Wright said.
And it is working. At Mimosa Elementary, which started Breakfast in the Classroom this past fall, breakfast meals served have increased from 412 daily to now an average of 634 students eating school breakfast each day. Similarly, McNair Middle School and Tri-Cities High School, where breakfast is served both in the cafeteria and on new mobile breakfast kiosks in high-traffic hallways, breakfast meals served have increased by an additional 200 students daily compared to before the programs started.
“We know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for student health and academic achievement,” said Superintendent Avossa. “Offering breakfast outside of the traditional cafeteria is a perfect example of Fulton County Schools’ efforts to put students first.”