A League of Their Own

Bloomington High School, SD 87 threw a curve ball creating their own Breakfast After the Bell delivery model that is just the right fit for their school.

Participation was low for Bloomington High School (BHS) serving breakfast in the cafeteria before school started.

“We were serving between 30 to 40 percent of our students. Kids just weren’t hungry first thing in the morning,” said Julie McCoy, BHS Nutrition Director.

Student feedback of wanting to eat later in the morning spurred the idea of a fully-functional mobile breakfast cart equipped with a laptop connected to a point of sale (POS) system via wireless internet and cash drawer.

BHS laptop with POS System and cash drawer

“We notified teachers, administrative staff, and custodians about the cart and that we would be doing a trial run. We didn’t want the cart to be disruptive,” said Laura Kletz, BHS Café Manager.

The staff was on-board after the trial run providing positive feedback on the breakfast cart.

“It is hard to even put into words how grateful I am for the breakfast cart. Before having it, tardiness was horrendous in 1st hour. Kids have trouble getting to school as is but when they did arrive; they’d often stop by the cafeteria or come late with McDonalds.” Since the breakfast cart “that hasn’t been an issue…,” said Brandon Thornton, BHS teacher.

BHS rolled on, officially starting Breakfast After the Bell in 2015 during National School Breakfast Week.

The high school transitioned from one big cart to 3 smaller fully-functional (each equipped with a laptop connected to a POS system and cash drawer) mobile breakfast carts. The smaller carts can fit in elevators to serve students on any of the school’s three floors.

BHS breakfast cart

The food service staff comes in at 7 AM to set up the carts. Hot breakfast items get heated up and cold items get assembled on the carts. Warming plates are used to keep hot items hot. Ten staple items adorn the carts along with breakfast (fruit, milk, juice, snacks, etc.).

Breakfast carts make their way out of the cafeteria and to classrooms around 7:30 AM.

BHS breakfast cart assembly

Teachers let cart staff know what time they want the cart to arrive at their classroom or will leave a note for the breakfast cart to come by another room if the class relocates.

“My classes have always loved and appreciated the breakfast cart. Every time we meet in a different location, the first question is: ‘Will the cart find us?’ And the amazing staff always does find us,” said Rebecca Fortner, BHS teacher.

Though BHS still serves the traditional cafeteria breakfast before school starts students can’t wait for the breakfast cart to come around to their classrooms.

“For second hour, which starts at 8:25 AM, the energy is pretty low because students are still waking up. However , once they hear the knock, it’s an entire new dynamic!” confessed Thornton.

“My second hour LOVED the breakfast cart! My students came to class on time … They looked forward to the ‘Breakfast Time’ greeting,” said Jodi Hall, BHS teacher.

When students hear Derek Brent, Breakfast Cart Staffer call out “It’s breakfast time!” they know the breakfast cart has arrived.

“Obama said: ‘Your voice can change the world.’ Your voice has changed my world, and woken me up to achieve better academic success each day.” -BHS student about Brent

Students come out of their classroom and are able to use their student ID’s (money can be loaded on the student’s ID account) or cash to purchase items off the cart then return to their classroom to eat.

BHS breakfast cart transaction

The breakfast cart does not interfere with class time. Lectures are happening while students are eating breakfast.

“My students are able to focus more on their work when they have had breakfast. The breakfast cart has been an invaluable addition to our mornings,” said Fortner
“I love having the breakfast cart come to my room. Students are definitely more attentive when they are not hungry,” stated Amy Waits, BHS teacher.

Since implementing Breakfast After the Bell breakfast participation has doubled at BHS.

“Before the cart, I saw many students each day with fatigue and headaches, reporting that they did not have breakfast. Since the cart has been instituted, I rarely see students who are hungry or complaining of headaches mid-morning as a result of hunger,” expressed Michelle Maurer, BHS Nurse.

When asked McCoy and Kletz what they felt was unique about their breakfast program – It wasn’t the fully functional mobile breakfast carts – it was the staff. “It is a team effort that makes the breakfast cart successful.” Building relationships with and having the support of teachers, administrative staff, and custodians makes the breakfast cart work at Bloomington High School.

Pictured with breakfast cart, BHS Cafe staff Deb Holzhauer, Amy Herald, and Derek Brent