Breakfast After the Bell: Like Clockwork

When the bell rings at 8:15 a.m., footsteps accompanied by the laughter and chatter of students eager to start their day flood the hallways. Lockers fling open, book bags hit the floor, and coats come off. Seconds later armed with books, pens, pencils and notebooks lockers slam shut and students head to class. Teachers waiting at the classroom door greet each student with “Good morning, are you getting a breakfast?” At 8:20 a.m. carts filled with cereal, milk, and oranges roll through the hallways stopping in front of each classroom. Students come out and grab breakfast. Back in the classroom teachers take attendance, marking off those that received a breakfast.

Breakfast time at Lincoln Middle School

By 8:25 a.m. a sense of calmness has swept through the school. Hallways are empty except for breakfast carts which remain until 8:40 a.m.

In the classrooms students are eating, focused on listening to announcements, journaling on their Chromebooks, reading, or reviewing yesterday’s lesson.

This is what Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Commission to End Hunger Members observed on a Breakfast After the Bell program tour of Berwyn North School District 98, Lincoln Middle School (referenced in the November edition, Seamlessly Breakfast After the Bell).

Lt. Governor with District Officials and Illinois Commission to End Hunger Members on the Lincoln Breakfast After the Bell tour

Lt. Governor with District Officials and Illinois Commission to End Hunger Members on the Lincoln Breakfast After the Bell tour
The Rise & Shine, Illinois school breakfast team helped to facilitate Berwyn North’s implementation of Breakfast After the Bell district-wide in the 2017-18 school year. A Breakfast Coordinator provided technical support in the pre-implementation phase and connected the district to the Rise & Shine, Illinois grant to purchase equipment for its three elementary school’s Breakfast in the Classroom and Lincoln Middle School’s Grab ‘N’ Go to the Classroom program.

The Lt. Governor and Commission members sat down with Michelle Smith (Lincoln Middle School Principal), Regina Johnson (District Business Manger), Dr. Carmen Ayala (Superintendent), Dena Thill and Eden Barragan (Lincoln’s Assistant Principals) for a Q&A on the school’s Grab ‘N’ Go program.

Q: How many carts are on each floor?
A: 2 carts on the first floor, 3 carts on the second floor, and 2 carts on the third floor.

Q: What if a student is late?
A: If students are 5-10 minutes late they know they can grab a breakfast off any cart and go to class. The teacher will see the student has a breakfast and mark it off for the count. If students come in after 8:40 a.m. they can go to the cafeteria to get a breakfast then head to class.

Q: Were there concerns about the implementation of Breakfast After the Bell? If so, how were those concerns addressed?
A: Teachers were concerned about instructional time being lost. We gave our teachers flexibility in what they could do in the classroom while students were eating. Once Breakfast After the Bell was implemented teachers saw students performing better after eating in the morning and reported that students were more attentive in class. There was also a concern about waste but there is very little waste, students are eating.

Q: Has Breakfast After the Bell improved tardiness?
A: Attendance has been positively impacted. When breakfast was before school started many students were chronically tardy. After implementation of Breakfast After the Bell more students are on time for school and grab a breakfast.

Q: How many students ate breakfast when it was served before school started? And how many are eating after implementation?
A: Lincoln Middle School went from 50 students eating breakfast before school started to about 500 students eating breakfast since implementing Breakfast After the Bell.

Breakfast Carts at Lincoln


Q: How is garbage disposed?
A: Teachers are provided garbage bags for students to throw away their garbage. Once breakfast is over at 8:40 a.m. teachers leave the garbage bags on the exterior door handle for staff to pick up.

Q: How did you inform parents when rolling out Breakfast After the Bell?
A: At our annual back to school event we handed out flyers to parents informing them that the district was starting Breakfast After the Bell in the 2017-18 school year. We also had a representative from No Kid Hungry/Rise & Shine Illinois at the event to talk to parents about Breakfast After the Bell. The representative handed out Rise & Shine, Illinois branded sunglasses, Frisbee’s and breakfast stickers to students. We also informed parents through our school newsletters. Parents were excited to hear we were starting Breakfast After the Bell.

Q: How did you get the staff on-board with implementation?
A: We wanted to make sure it was not a burden on the staff. We had a faculty meeting to inform them Breakfast After the Bell was coming. After implementation we had administrative meetings to discuss what was working and what was not working and got ideas from each other. We checked in with teachers to see how it was going and if there was anything they needed. Teachers told us after implementation that it wasn’t nearly as bad as they thought it was going to be.

Q: What advice would you share with other districts?
A: We would tell other districts to go and see Breakfast After the Bell in a place that’s working for the number of students you will be serving. Districts need to know that there may be some nay-sayers but that’s okay. You recognize the concerns then implement and let them see it is not as bad as they thought. People do and will come around.