Breakfast Bonus

School Nutrition’s November 2014 issue included a number of articles about the benefits of school breakfast programs—and the challenges inherent in expanding service. In “School Breakfast 2014: Can Cafeterias Rise & Shine?” author Dayle Hayes, MS, RD, asked a number of school nutrition directors to share their experiences, particularly since the recent implementation of new federal nutrition standards for this program. While many expressed concern about availability, prices and waste, the challenges have not yet become real impediments to feeding hungry students. Following is one more example of a director doing everything possible to make it work.

In McMinnville, Ore., Child Nutrition Director and current Oregon SNA President Cinthia Hiatt-Henry, SNS, leverages every possible resource to ensure breakfast success in her district. Families, students and schools are all benefiting from her award-winning efforts.

In SY 2013-14, Hiatt-Henry started the district’s first breakfast in the classroom (BIC) program at Grandhaven School. Participation rose from 90 to 400 students per day with strong support from administration and teaching staff. In an end-of-year survey, 90% of the Grandhaven staff reported that BIC had a positive response on academic performance, while only 10% indicated it was too early to tell. The principal already credits BIC as an important factor in raising 2014 test scores.

For SY 2014-15, Hiatt-Henry has begun implementing a district-wide Community Eligibility Program (CEP) pilot and is gearing up to introduce BIC in two additional schools—all while rolling out the new breakfast requirements. Her team’s solution to managing offer-versus-serve in the classroom has been to bundle one half-cup serving of fruit with each grain component. An additional half cup of fruit and milk are available as choices for the third component. At press time, it was too early for Hiatt-Henry to forecast financials, but she is determined to continue expanding school breakfast.

To support her goal, McMinnville has applied for and received breakfast expansion funding from the Oregon Department of Education. She has earned Fuel Up to Play 60 grants from the Oregon Dairy Council and uses those materials to promote school breakfast. In addition, Hiatt-Henry works closely with food distributors to procure new products that comply with the requirements while being embraced by students. These include popular whole grain-rich cinnamon rolls and turkey sausage. She also reaches out to Oregon farmers to purchase local apples and other produce items.

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