More children are starting their school day well-nourished and ready to learn with a nutritious breakfast at school. Numerous studies underscore breakfast's importance in optimizing children's learning, attendance, and classroom behavior. Nationally, over 11 million children ate nearly 1.87 billion school breakfasts in fiscal year 2009 -- an increase of about 3% from fiscal year 2008.
From FY 2009 to FY 2010, six states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio) increased their school breakfast participation. Innovative strategies like "breakfast in the classroom" and "Grab N Go" breakfasts are making it easier for students to participate.
Also, several states have implemented policy changes to allow breakfast in the classroom to count as instructional time. While the children are eating, teachers can take attendance, make announcements and begin lessons.
In Illinois "breakfast in the classroom" has significantly increased participation, especially in the Chicago Public Schools, where school breakfast is now required in all elementary schools and made available to all students. Indeed breakfast is very important in Illinois. In November, over 100 members of school communities attended the first Illinois School Breakfast Summit in Bellwood, IL. Panelists representing school foodservice, industry, government and the Midwest Dairy Council shared information on resources and initiatives. Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed November 15-19, 2010 Illinois School Breakfast Week.
In Michigan, the State Superintendent's recent "School Breakfast Challenge," in partnership with United Dairy Industry of Michigan, offered schools incentives to increase school breakfast participation by implementing breakfast in the classroom or "universal breakfast" programs (where all students eat free).
In Wisconsin, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl has sponsored grants that assist schools with start-up costs for breakfast programs. Indiana also implemented a new policy last year that allows breakfast in the classroom to count as instructional time.
Visit the FNS School Breakfast website for more information on how to implement school breakfast: /cnd/breakfast/expansion/default.htm