Breakfast in the classroom has emerged as the most effective strategy to get school
breakfast to the large number of students who need it. It is especially effective for those
schools with high concentrations of free and reduced-price eligible students that can
serve breakfast in the classroom to all students for free.
At participating schools, breakfast participation levels have increased and additional
federal reimbursements are helping food service accounts. Students participating in
Breakfast in the Classroom don’t struggle through mornings on empty stomachs and
experience significant academic and health benefits.
Research has been done on breakfast in the classroom that shows that children who
participate are less likely to be absent, have fewer visits to the school nurse, and are
less likely to be overweight. They eat more fruit, drink more milk and consume a wider
variety of foods.
How Breakfast in the Classroom Works
The program has three critical components:
Delivery – the most common options for getting breakfast to the classroom are:
School food service staff, students, or volunteers deliver it to classrooms;
Students pick up bagged breakfasts from hallway carts or kiosks; or
Students pick up breakfast from the cafeteria and bring it to the classroom.
2) Accountability – There must be a system in place to keep track of which students
participate in breakfast each day. This can be done in a number of ways; the delivery
model usually determines the best aproach. For example:
In a model where breakfast is delivered to the classroom, teachers can check off
which students participate on a roster and return it to the school food service
3) Clean Up – After breakfast is consumed, trash is disposed of and classroom
surfaces are wiped, if necessary. Strategies that work well include:
Students place all breakfast trash in one receptacle which is then put outside the
classroom in the hallway. Custodians collect the breakfast trash from each
hallway. It may seem like more work for custodians, but the trade off is that they
no longer have to clean the cafeteria after breakfast.
Each classroom has a spray bottle and roll of paper towels in case of spills.
Students have responsibility for cleaning up their own desk after breakfast.
Classroom Activities and Instructional Time during Breakfast in the Classroom
Breakfast in the classroom generally takes about 10 minutes to serve and eat,
and is often done during morning activities, such as announcements, turning in
homework or individual reading time so no instructional time is lost. Usually it
takes time for children to settle in at the beginning of the day, and many teachers
find that classroom breakfast is a successful transitional activity. Teachers report
they have actually gained instructional time due to fewer nurse visits, and less
tardiness and absenteeism.
Recognizing the importance of morning nutrition to learning and performance on
standardized tests, numerous State Superintendents of Education have recently
issued policy memos clarifying that classroom breakfast meets the requirements
of instructional time.
Garnering Support for Breakfast in the Classroom
Work with your school nutrition manager to create a menu of nutrient-rich,
student-appealing breakfast choices. Offer conveniently packed and easy-toclean-up foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free
dairy foods.
Speak with teacher and encourage them to use Breakfast in the Classroom as an
opportunity to teach about healthy eating and the importance of breakfast. Use
the information sheets and presentation tools provided below to help.
Consider local grocery stores, restaurants, or farms that might be willing to
provide food samples and ideas.
Spread the word about Breakfast in the Classroom. Create posters to put up in
high-traffic areas, distribute flyers in classrooms and advertise your program in
the school newsletter and website. Encourage everyone at your school to make
healthy eating choices in the morning and to eat breakfast every day.