Berwyn South School District 100 was ahead of the times initiating a Breakfast After the Bell program in 2009.
Breakfast Champions Jennifer Hosty, Business Manager, and Toni LeGare, Food Service Director of Berwyn South SD 100 opened up the doors to two of their schools for nearby school districts preparing to implement a Breakfast After the Bell program to see one up close, live, and in action.
The four school districts in attendance observed Breakfast in the Classroom at conjoined Heritage Middle School and Emerson Elementary School then sat down with Hosty, LeGare, and Michelle Hyman, Food Service Director of Aramark for a Q&A.
At 8:20 a.m. the halls of Heritage Middle School are filled with the sounds of laughter, chatter, book bags hitting the floor, and locker doors opening as kids hurry to put their things away and head to homeroom. Once in homeroom you hear the teacher ask those who want breakfast to line-up. As kids assemble in line a cart filled with milk, bananas, bagels, and eating utensils rolls down the hall to each classroom where upon seeing the cart kids come out to pick up their breakfast items and return to homeroom. Trash bins are in the classrooms for kids to dispose of their trash after eating breakfast.
Coolers filled with breakfast items are sat outside of classrooms at Emerson Elementary School for teachers to pick up and bring into the classroom. The breakfast items are taken out of the coolers and placed in bowls on a long table so children can easily pick up the items. In Gissel Escobedo’s Kindergarten classroom, once the children have put away their belongings they come in to the classroom take the chairs down from their tables and take a seat. An assigned helper from the class comes up to the table in front of the classroom where the bowls of breakfast items are and proceeds to call each table up in Spanish to pick up their breakfast items. “We use breakfast time as a part of our dual language program. Kids learning Spanish get the opportunity to practice their Spanish calling tables up and kids who know Spanish get the opportunity to practice their English when they are the assigned breakfast helper,” said Ms. Escobedo.
How did your district start utilizing CEP?
We started Breakfast After the Bell not being a CEP school. 3 years ago we applied for the Community Eligibility Provision. Only 2 of our schools qualified for reimbursement rates in the 80% range. The following year when we applied, the state added Medicaid students into the direct certified. Our numbers went through the roof! We applied for CEP that year and grouped our schools together qualifying for the 100% reimbursement rate district wide.
What do you do with all the extra food for the kids that don’t take a breakfast?
We have prepackaged items so we are able to put those items away and use them for another time.
Do you offer children with allergies a different breakfast?
We use SunButter. We do not use Peanut Butter. We have been a peanut free district for 14 or 15 years now. If a kid can’t have milk we will give them soy milk. We will modify the items for the children if we have a doctor’s note. Our school nurses are also aware of the food allergies and they are given a copy of the menu.
How do you breakout the time for breakfast?
Teachers use morning announcements for the time to have breakfast.
How is clean-up handled?
In some of our schools, we have bins on rollers in the hallway so when kids are passing or going to another class they can dispose of their items on the way. You can also put a door hanger out for the custodial staff so they know which classrooms they need to go to for a spill to clean-up.
What was the initial want to change from before school to after school begins for breakfast?
We had a high percentage of kids who received free lunch and there was an opportunity to provide breakfast. For some kids these are the only meals they receive so it was important to us to do what we could to ensure all our kids had access to breakfast. Participation has increased beyond what we expected. It was really a win-win for everyone.
Any advice for getting buy-in for Breakfast After the Bell?
It’s good to have your Superintendent on-board so the support trickles down. It’s also good to start out with a pilot in schools that want a Breakfast After the Bell program so that when the other schools see that it can work it will be easier to bring them into the fold.