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Consumer Trends: School Breakfast Trends

Wed, 03/07/2012 - 12:45pm

WOODBURY, N.Y. (PRNewswire) — The got breakfast? Foundation recently completed its 2012 survey of food service directors to assess current trends in School Breakfast Programs.  One key finding: Breakfast sites have expanded beyond the cafeteria to alternate sites with the biggest gains reported in kiosk locations and breakfast in the classroom. 

"This week is National School Breakfast Week and we'd like to remind schools to think beyond the cafeteria – alternate site breakfasts are a key to increasing breakfast program participation," says Gary Davis, got breakfast? founder.

The online survey, conducted for the non-profit got breakfast? Foundation by Cline Consulting, asked food service directors representing 1,500 schools with an estimated enrollment of 2.2 million students, questions to assess current trends in school breakfast programs.  Survey results showed that while cafeteria breakfasts are still served by most schools, classroom breakfasts and kiosks have increased significantly in recent years:

  • Nearly all (98%) offer breakfast in the cafeteria; as compared to 96% in 2009.
  • Over two-fifths (42%) offer breakfast in the classroom; as compared to 30% in 2009.
  • Over 1/4 (29%) offer breakfast from kiosks; as compared to only 4% in 2009.
  • Other venues reported included:  "breakfast after the bell"; "breakfast in the gym or all-purpose room"; and "breakfast in student run stores."

In Phoenix, Arizona, for example, the Roosevelt School District #66 breakfast program has enjoyed a near 100% participation since adopting Universal School Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) six years ago to serve its nearly 11,000 students at 19 schools. Now the program is a revenue generator for the district food and nutrition services.

"By going to Universal BIC, the department is able to  maximize its operating dollars to become financially stable, in turn we are then able to contribute to the financial success of the district," explains James Hemmen, child nutrition services supervisor and executive chef. "All excess funds are then re-generated into program upgrades so the department does not take away from general education funds. It's important for operators to realize that in the world of school nutrition, it is okay to make some money serving healthy food to hungry kids; moreover it is essential to stay in business in today's changing climate." 

Steve Gallagher, director of child nutrition services for Oklahoma City Public Schools, has realized similar success since adding Breakfast in the Classroom.  "We continue to implement BIC or breakfast on the run whenever possible," says Gallagher. "A couple of years ago we implemented Universal Free Breakfast for all students, regardless of status. Overall, breakfast has increased by about 20% over the past two years, now serving 17,000 students daily."

Among the other related survey findings – variety, including pre-packaged meals – also adds to school breakfast success.  Results showed that most directors continue to mix it up by offering cold, hot, grab and go, and pre-packaged breakfasts to keep the kids coming to breakfast.

Approximately 50% of the food service directors are "most likely" or "likely" to offer or expand breakfast in alternate sites with pre-packaged meals offered at least two times per week. Offering of pre-packaged breakfasts increased from "some" to "most" in 2012 with 79% reporting one of these responses; as compared to 72% in a similar survey conducted two years ago.

The mission of the got breakfast? Foundation is to ensure that every child starts the school day with a nutritious breakfast in order to learn, grow and develop to his or her fullest potential. Visit www.gotbreakfast.org for information.

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