Big Smiles for Breakfast in the Classroom

June 10, 2011

Breakfast-1 This week was the roll-out of the breakfast in the classroom program in my son’s school. (Yes, this is the last week of the school year.) When my wife took our son to school, she saw the program in action as students had the option of taking a hot or cold breakfast when they arrived at school. She described some chaos, a little frustration and a lot of food. The chaos, she said, was not significantly more than a normal morning of kids arriving at school; the frustration seemed to be related to integrating a new initiative during a busy time at the end of the year; and the food part went pretty well.

This report about breakfast in the classroom didn’t surprise me; we’ve heard from teachers, principals and parents across the country that it’s a great program but sometimes takes time to iron out the implementation.

What did surprise me was the energy, the excitement and the huge smiles it brought.

My son had already eaten breakfast, but he was so excited by the new program that he grabbed a breakfast bag anyway. The breakfast was composed of a bowl of Raisin Bran, a whole wheat roll with a pack of jelly and a cup of 100 percent apple juice. Now I would have preferred whole fruit rather than juice, but all in all, this is a reasonable breakfast. My wife left the school that morning feeling good.

The experience made me think of the anonymous teacher Mrs. Q, who blogged about breakfast in the classroom and said that any initial concerns about the program “melted away” as it was actually implemented at school. She too talked about the energy and smiles the program brought to her school in the morning: “The kids love it,” she wrote. “How great is it to walk into school and get food? The kids have big smiles on their faces when they are carrying their paper bags and milk to their classrooms.”  

My family is fortunate enough to have the time and resources to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. But what if we are running late and don’t have time for breakfast? This is a great back-up for us and I’m glad that we’ll have the option.

But more importantly, there are so many kids who aren’t as fortunate as we are and don’t get a good breakfast before school. This welcome breakfast at school will provide the nutrition they need to focus and pay attention in class. Quite simply, kids benefit from having a daily breakfast — that’s the real power of this program.

But as I mentioned, Henry had already eaten. After grabbing a breakfast out of sheer excitement, he decided to not eat his breakfast in the classroom, but instead put it in his backpack and brought it home. He was so excited about it that he decided to forgo the dinner I made and eat his breakfast in the classroom for dinner! Of course that won’t be the regular plan in our house, but I couldn’t get over the big smile this simple bagged meal brought to his face.

Cereal with milk, a whole grain roll and juice for dinner. Not our everyday meal, but as a breakfast in the morning for thousands of Chicago kids? It looks pretty good to me.

Breakfast-2