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School Breakfast Toolkit

Resources For Determining Feasibility:

Steps to Determine Feasibility:

Gather Information:  Observe and Interview (Gather Information Worksheet): Existing programs may observe, interview and record reasons why students do or don’t eat breakfast at school. If starting a program, interview and record responses as to what they eat now and the possibility of eating at school.

Secure data or estimates for a previous month* (Gather Information Worksheet):

  • Attendance
  • Tardies
  • Behavioral issues
  • Nurse visits possibly related to hunger and description of current policy re: crackers, etc.

Calculate current current costs, participation, and possible projected costs by schools and/or district (Use all sheets found in the Feasibility Workbook)

  • School Enrollments
  • Student eligibility for free/reduced/paid meals
  • Average daily participation by free/reduced/paid
  • Average daily participation % by free/reduced/paid
  • Average daily participation by grade
  • Average daily participation % by grade
  • Total average daily participation %


*averaging two or three months’ data will give the most accurate view of the current

Resources for Use:

Bring together key stakeholders within the district to review the data that you have collected. This will also serve as the time to create “buy-in” with leadership. Be sure to include the Superintendent, the Principal, Nutrition Services, and possibly others. Remember that critical influencers are the principals who set policy in their buildings and the nutrition services manager.

Other stakeholders to include in this first effort should be limited to those creating the Breakfast Team and making decisions to foster their work. This will be different for each district and might include business manager, school board representative, nurse, teacher/team leaders, or wellness team leader.

After the meeting, this group should be “sold” on the need and be ready to influence others.

  • Utilize the “Suggested Agenda” and the “Items for the Breakfast Team”
  • If you need assistance with reviewing and and planning reach out to HFH staff

Resources to Use:

It’s important meet with other stakeholders (school board/staff/parents) to educate them on the potential changes: Review Sample Agenda for meeting ideas.

  1. Review the benefits to the students and the teaching environment.
  2. Discuss new serving model implementation, planning for a permanent policy change.
  3. Discuss when the program will be rolled out. Let them know who is on the Breakfast Team and who they can talk to with questions or concerns.  
  4. Describe future communication and training plan so all are prepared for the change.
  5. Acknowledge voiced barriers. Review possible solutions previously worked out by the Breakfast Team.
  6. Listen carefully to all subsequent input and discuss at team meetings. Every suggestion and concern should be considered and prompt response given to the concerned or reluctant participants.

Resources to Use:

Funding: For a comprehensive view of funding available please contact HFH Staff

Breakfast Team should prepare a proposal that outlines the following

  • Which students should be offered breakfast?
  • Meal pricing policies
  • Menu policies
  • Teachers/parents eating with students
  • Use of time during breakfast
  • Choose school(s) for pilot test if desired
  • Funding
  • Food Service Planning and Procurement

Specific school procedural details (some of these may be relevant district wide for larger districts):

  • Serving Model Planning: Consider how each school can have the greatest accessibility for all enrolled students. 
  • Menu options:  Consider ease of service based on serving model at the individual school.
  • Meal Counts: USDA regulations for point of sale meal counts are strict. Counts must be taken at the end of the Grab and Go serving line in the cafeteria, hall table or cart where students are supervised and required to take meals that are reimbursable (or charged correctly for a la carte items). It may be taken in the classroom if the food is delivered to the classroom directly and staff are trained to document that students take a full reimbursable meal. NDE should be contacted for approval of all counting systems.
  • Custodial Service: The new serving model may replace the work of cleaning a cafeteria after service. Some report cleaner hallways and less trash over all.  Work out an efficient plan for collecting trash. Cans or bags may be used in the classrooms and placed outside the door, or students may carry their trash to a can in the hallways. Recycling should be considered. Full bags or cans may be removed by custodial staff or student volunteers, SPED classes, etc. can be allowed to assist.
  • Use the Food Service Planning and Procurement checklist for next steps

Resources To Use:

Promote to Parents: Menu and information should be on the school website. A letter to parents should be considered listing the benefits and identifying meal charges, etc.

Promote to Students: Marketing planned with and for students specifically, using technology and up to date communication such as Facebook and Twitter will increase participation and the concept that it is “cool to eat at school”. Menu and information should be on the school website. Be sure to lead up to the roll out in such a way as to build enthusiasm and excitement. Ask school leaders to be present.

Promote to Community: When the program is up and running create marketing information for the community. This is a great chance for positive press. The program will make a huge difference to children. Menu and information should be on the school website. Ask the local newspaper to cover this exciting new program.

Resources to Use:

  • Tips for Teachers-To Come

School staff who will be responsible for daily operation (nutrition services and custodial staff) need to understand all procedures and who is responsible for each aspect of service and clean up.

Train all other school staff (teachers, paras, etc.). Have them come to a demonstration area or set one up for an all school staff meeting.

Key Training Areas are:

  1. Food Display: Set up of tables or line and order that the items will be picked up (e.g. bag first, then milk, then other foods)
  2. Student Supervision: Timing, building entry changes and when students go to lockers if applicable, traffic flow to and from serving line, how to help and when to stay out of the way, acceptable behavior for students and staff.
  3. Reimbursable Meal: Define a reimbursable meal, all should know what food items count as which components each day, where to stand and how to encourage students to take a complete reimbursable meal to meet USDA meal pattern regulations. This is an important area as students may take too much and have to return things (or pay for them). Taking too little also means sending them back to get more or allowing them to pay a la carte prices which forfeits the federal reimbursement.
  4. Meal Counting/Tally System:  Demonstrate who will handle this and how students are to handle meal account cards or other point of sale system or who will tally meals. Discuss appropriate student behavior to speed meal service and counting.
  5. Classroom Protocol: Teachers should be encouraged to think through the procedures for their own classroom, to educate the students about the expectations and enforce them as they do all classroom procedures. They should write their procedures down for substitute teachers. 
  6. Clean Up:  Discuss student responsibility for cleaning up their own area after eating, suggested location of trash bags, disposal procedures and timing, items provided to classroom for clean up or how to request them. Review when to call a custodian.

Train Students: Invite each classroom to meet for five minutes at a demonstration area and walk by the table/cart and see where foods will be and how the traffic will flow, where to wait for point of service count, etc. The same Key Training Areas should be covered (see 2. above).

Note: Students and staff may be trained at the same time at a student assembly where a demonstration area is set up and some students and staff role play the procedures. A “how to” video could be made, uploaded to YouTube and used to train students in procedures.

Resources to Use:

  • Success Story Outline
  1. Evaluate by tracking results: Keep records of attendance, nurse’s visits, etc. based on the data collected in the Needs Assessment (see Gathering Information Worksheet).
  2. Complete other aspects of the evaluation plan developed by the Breakfast Team.
  3. Consider doing a post-start up survey: After 6-8 weeks or other designated time, ask students and staff for input (HFH has pre and post test’s and Focus Group Outline available).
  4. Take Action: Share results with all staff. Make changes based on results.
  5. Celebrate: Enjoy the positive results of this new program and watch for student’s academic improvements.