Every morning at Oakridge, a group of morning Extended Day students delivers rolling cooler bags to classrooms throughout the school. The pilot program, which is also at Hoffman-Boston, provides breakfast for students in class.
The breakfast is the same as the Grab and Go breakfast served in cafeterias says Food and Nutrition supervisor Amy Maclosky. “The breakfast contains cereal, bagels, fruit or juice and a milk.”
Anyone can eat the breakfast. “All students may participate in breakfast. Free and reduced students are free. All other students pay with their lunch accounts,” said Maclosky.
Second grade teacher Wes Parker says the program provides students with a routine at the beginning of the day, “Students have a nice calm, peaceful routine as they come in to class in the morning, and this is a way to make sure
that everyone has something to eat. Even students who routinely eat breakfast at home have been known to say every now and then that things were too hectic at home to eat their breakfast on a particular morning, and they know that they’ll always have an opportunity here at school.”
Since lunch is later in the day, this helps fourth graders stay focused longer. “In fourth grade, students don’t eat lunch until 12:45,” said teacher Rachael Fine. “We have snack time around 10:30, but if a student doesn’t eat breakfast in the morning that is an hour and a half of instruction on an empty stomach! We don’t know if students eat breakfast in the morning, so giving them the option to eat at school ensures that they’re starting the day right. It gets them energized and focused.”
Fine also says that students are more focused, energized, and less fidgety. Maclosky says the feedback has been very positive, “It has changed the breakfast culture at the school.”
According to Parker, students love the program. “My students love the program, and they look forward to seeing what is for breakfast each day. Some students even bring breakfasts in from home now, because they also love starting their day here in the classroom with a breakfast and a book. I was skipping breakfast, myself, but ever since the program was implemented, it has served as a reminder to me about how important this first meal is, and I now eat my
breakfast in the classroom too!”
Parker also says he definitely sees a difference in terms of his students’ ability to focus after eating their breakfasts. “I used to hear kids complaining, both first thing, and midway through the morning about being hungry, and I never
hear that now. It’s very hard to think about other things when your stomach is telling you that you need food, so it has made a huge difference! I also think that beginning the morning with a nice routine, like breakfast, helps us feel ready to jump right into our lessons once we are finished.”
On Friday, Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe along with representatives from Nestle USA and No Kid Hungry visited Oakridge to learn about the program. McAuliffe, Nestle and No Kid Hungry are all strong supporters of school breakfast programs.