Making the most out of the most important meal of the day

Rise and shine, San Francisco! March 4 - 8, 2019 is National School Breakfast Week and schools across our City are celebrating the most important meal of the day. National School Breakfast Week raises awareness about the millions of breakfasts served at school to children nationwide. In San Francisco alone, SFUSD’s Student Nutrition Services (SNS) serves over 8,000 breakfasts every day.

There is a reason why breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. Studies show that students who eat breakfast regularly are more attentive in class, complain less about hunger pains, and don’t experience that mid-morning slump. With lunch at SFUSD starting anywhere from 11:00am to as late as 12:30pm, it’s nearly impossible to ask students to sit still and be able to learn when they haven’t eaten for 5-6 hours or more.  

SFUSD students can count on breakfast being served at school 30 minutes before the first bell rings, but for many, there are still barriers to getting breakfast this early - transportation delays, not wanting or able to come to school early, unpredictable rushed morning routines, not being hungry so early in the morning, or even the stigma associated with eating school breakfast.

In response, as of this year, 30 SFUSD schools have adopted various Breakfast After the Bell (BAB) programs to make breakfast more accessible by embedding it within the school day. The three existing Breakfast After the Bell models include:

Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC): Breakfast is served directly in the classroom, where students get to eat during the first 15-20 minutes of school. By bringing breakfast to the classroom, students are more likely to eat breakfast, especially when the food is directly in front of them, and classrooms start their day with a positive and healthy routine of sitting and eating together. Breakfast participation is the highest at schools that have BIC - where on average, they jump from 19% to over 70% of students eating breakfast!

Second Chance Breakfast: This reopens breakfast service mid-morning, usually during recess, nutrition break, or advisory/homeroom, to provide students with another opportunity to grab breakfast if they missed the first breakfast service or weren’t yet hungry before school. Second Chance Breakfast is either served in the cafeteria or in another convenient location in the school.

Grab n Go: At SFUSD, Grab n Go breakfast brings breakfast to where students are already hanging out, like a high-trafficked hallway, school entrance, courtyard, or out on the playground. This makes it easy for them to just grab a meal and go. At these schools, students can take their breakfast to their class.

SNS is committed to ensuring all our students are ready to learn, by making breakfast easy and desirable. Thanks to the ongoing support and partnership of Share Our Strength, we are continuing to expand menu options and increase breakfast service across SFUSD.

If you are interested in learning more about these models and how SNS can help you start Breakfast After the Bell at your school, please reach out to SNS Breakfast Expansion Consultant Jiwon Jun at junj@sfusd.edu.

Let’s make sure every SFUSD student has better and equitable access to the most important meal of the day!