The bell rings and it’s time for class to start. Children file into the classroom, rubbing their sleepy eyes and turning in last night’s homework. Once they’re all settled into their desks, there’s a knock at the door. Everyone cheers because they know what time it is – breakfast time!

Many schools nutrition programs nationwide started incorporating “breakfast after the bell” to ensure that all students are fed wholesome breakfasts to improve their focus and ability to learn. The Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, created a $96.2 million program to serve free breakfast in the classroom, but this program was met with opposition.

To Breakfast or Not to Breakfast

According to the New York Daily News, de Blasio’s free breakfast in the classroom program got off to a “rocky start.” Many parents opposed the program for various reasons.

 

With school out for the summer, you have plenty of time to weigh the options and decide: to breakfast (in the classroom) or not to breakfast? Here are a few of the pros and cons for creating a ‘breakfast after the bell’ program at your school.

Pros

  • Many students are too rushed to grab breakfast in the morning, or their families may not have the means to provide a healthy breakfast for them at home. With breakfast served in the classroom, you can be certain that your students are getting a healthy breakfast that meets nutritional standards.
  • Serving breakfast after the bell can generate excitement and get students ready to learn. Plus, if students are satiated from a nutritious morning meal, they’re less likely to overeat at lunchtime.
  • Hosting breakfast in the classroom can teach the students an important lesson on socialization. According to NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, breakfast in the classroom is “eating, breaking bread – it’s a social skill.” When students eat together, it starts a conversation about interacting with their peers as well as practicing good table manners.
  • Many students are visual learners, and understands concepts best when they can apply them to real-life situations. Breakfast food can easily be tied in to a math or health lesson – think learning shapes, color, counting, or even nutrition.

Cons

  • Many parents opposed NYC’s breakfast in the classroom program because eating while trying to learn can be a serious distraction. Learning time is valuable and limited, so it is important for teachers to maximize each minute they have with their students.
  • Breakfast is a sacred time for many families, as it may be the only time in the day that everyone is able to sit down and eat together. If students know they will be fed at school, they may skip out on valuable breakfast bonding with their families.
  • Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg refused to implement this program while he was in office, arguing that it could “worsen obesity because kids might eat twice.” He’s got a point; what student would say no to free food, even if he or she has already eaten?
  • Breakfast in the classroom requires careful planning and solid policy, as there’s potential for a lot of grey areas. Is the breakfast free for all students, or only for those who are eligible for free or reduced meals? What is the protocol for students with negative account balances? These questions must be addressed before implementing such a hefty program in your school.

So, where do you stand on breakfast after the bell? Are you jumping on the breakfast bandwagon, or waving a “Just Say No!” picket sign? We’d love to hear your thoughts.