As a principal of a small New York City Public High School, my goal is to ensure that effective teaching and learning occurs within a safe school environment.
In addition to effective teaching and learning, I want to equip my students with the essential tools to start their school day productively. One way that this is done is through a breakfast program offered by the New York City of Education called “Breakfast In The Classroom.” The Breakfast In the Classroom programs provides students with a bagged breakfast that they can get once they arrive to school and take it to their first period class to eat while they are doing their work.
A bagged breakfast may consists of the following, a piece of fruit, whole grain muffin, yogurt, fruit juice, cereal, 2% milk or string cheese. One of the major reasons that I participated in this program approximately three years ago was because I would see my students come to school in the morning with junk food (Chips, soda, candy, gum), a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich or a bagel drenched in butter. They would eat this processed food loaded with sugar, saturated fat or sodium and within the hour seemed withdrawn, disengaged and lethargic. This would ultimately affect their learning in negative way.
The breakfast in the classroom program provides food that gives students essential vitamins, minerals, protein and “good” fat.
Another reason that I decided to participate in the program was because it’s free and that all students could benefit from it. Three years ago, I initially piloted it with my 9th graders and it was a huge success; now over 50% of the student body participates in the breakfast program. The following are some quotes from students regarding the breakfast program:
“Yeah, it’s very good for those who can’t eat breakfast at home and those who don’t have money for the store.” – 10th grade female student
“I think it improves attendance mostly because a lot of kids come in grab the bag and go to class.” – 11th grade male student
“You get more precise with time, you become healthier.” – 9th grade female student
“You manage your time wisely; you eat while you do your work.” – 12th grade male student
The breakfast in the classroom have benefited the teachers as well.
There is a substantial decrease in lateness to first period classes and students are more engaged in their learning. Students have the first fifteen minutes to eat their breakfast while they are completing their class assignment. After students finish their breakfast, they discard their trash in the trash bin inside the classroom. Upon my visiting first period classes, I noticed that the classrooms have a sense of community and purpose; students are working together and sharing their breakfast.
The breakfast in the classroom program has been a win, win situation for both teachers and students:
– Increase in students eating a healthier breakfast.
– Increase in student engagement
– Improvement of time management
The breakfast in the classroom program has become the breakfast of champions at my school.