This post is sponsored by The Kellogg Company.
Schools will celebrate the benefits of breakfast, which include better student health and academic achievement, during National School Breakfast Week March 5-9. As a supporter of NSBW and a category leader in K-12 food, The Kellogg Company works with schools and other industry partners during the weeklong event and throughout the year to promote school breakfast and help students get a healthy start to the day. In this interview, Kellogg President of US Specialty Channels Wendy Davidson discusses the company’s Breakfasts for Better Days program and how school staff and foodservice operators can increase participation in school breakfast.
Why has Kellogg taken such an active interest in school breakfast?
At Kellogg, we believe that great breakfasts lead to great days. Beyond nutrition and food security, school breakfast is linked to fewer incidences of tardiness, absenteeism, disciplinary problems and fewer visits to the school nurse. There is also considerable evidence that school breakfast participation leads to better educational outcomes and classroom participation -- because if your stomach isn’t growling it is definitely easier to listen and learn!
School breakfast provides a nutritious choice that is a great solution for families. And as the largest supplier of many categories of K-12 food, we’re passionate about helping kids start each morning off right, with nutritional foods that help set them up to have a successful day in school.
Because breakfast is such an important part of who we are as a company, Kellogg’s launched our global signature cause platform, Breakfasts For Better Days, in 2013. Through this program, we focus our efforts on our commitment to end childhood hunger and making sure families have access to nutritional food. Our Kellogg’s team is keenly aware of the importance of breakfast in schools, as my team works with schools each and every day, helping them deliver school breakfast programs that help kids start their day right.
Through Breakfasts for Better Days, Kellogg has already provided 1.9 billion servings of food since 2013. But Breakfasts for Better Days is more than just food donation. Can you explain?
Through our Breakfasts for Better Days platform, we’re committed to creating 3 billion Better Days for people here and around the world by 2025. Here’s how we will do it:
First, we will continue donating food to those in need. We are committed to ensuring that 2.5 billion servings of food will be donated through hundreds of food banks and other programs.
Secondly, we will work closely with our partners to ensure low-income and at-risk children get the best start to their day by expanding school breakfast programs. We’re making great progress through our Breakfasts for Better Days initiative, with participation in meal programs reaching nearly 300,000 students, but our goal is expanding breakfast programs to reach 2 million children.
We know that people care where their food comes from, so we are committing to helping increase the productivity and resiliency of a half million farm families here and around the world by advancing sustainable and smart agricultural practices.
And finally, we know that creating 3 billion Better Days takes a great team. And our passionate and dedicated employees will be volunteering 45,000 days of service in their local communities to fight hunger.
How does Kellogg help schools provide breakfast options that meet nutritional needs but are also exciting to students?
Kellogg’s K-12 portfolio includes over 60 products developed for the K-12 segment that meet the USDA guidelines. Our K-12 products includes Eggo waffles, MorningStar Farms breakfast sausage, Pop-Tarts made with whole grain and of course Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Multigrain for schools -- foods kids know and love. Because we know if a child doesn’t like the food, there is little likelihood they will eat.
We’ve also partnered with customers and industry partners, including Action For Healthy Kids, No Kid Hungry, the Food Research and Action Center and United Way to help expand school breakfast through grants and the development of programs that help create excitement and interest in the breakfast occasion.
How can school staff and foodservice operators increase participation in school breakfast programs and explain the importance of breakfast to student and parents?
Kellogg, with the help of various industry partners, has helped schools implement “breakfast before or after the bell” programs such as “breakfast in the classroom” or “grab and go” meals that students grab on their way into the school. These type of programs make school breakfast more accessible and welcoming to students. And with the inclusion of Kellogg’s brands that kids know and love that also meet USDA guidelines, we’ve seen some great success in helping drive breakfast participation at schools.
We’re also really excited about our National School Breakfast Week operator contest, that encourages foodservice directors to submit their innovative ideas about how they are increasing breakfast participation at their schools. Being able to showcase how these innovative foodservice operators are engaging with their students and providing them with a great start to their day is a great way for us to say thank you to the foodservice operators for doing what they do best -- feeding and providing delicious foods to our kids.
Wendy Davidson is the president of US Specialty Channels at the Kellogg Company, where she is responsible for leading a $1.5 billion business in growth channels from small retail formats including convenience, alternate retail, and vending to food away from home outlets such as schools, restaurants, hotels and healthcare. She is a member of the company’s Global Leadership Team, the Kellogg North American Leadership Team, the Global Snacks and Global Breakfast Operating Councils, the K Pride & Allies (KPA) and Women of Kellogg (WOK) networks and serves as executive sponsor for the Kellogg Young Professionals (YP).
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