Appealing, accessible options can boost participation in school breakfast
February 4, 2020
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This post is sponsored by Campbell’s Foodservice.

Eating breakfast can have a myriad of positive effects for K-12 students. School breakfast programs aim to bring these benefits to students, but there are several factors that can keep children from taking advantage of such programs. Breakfast options that appeal to students can encourage them to participate in school breakfast programs, while allowing schools to meet USDA meal pattern requirements.

The benefits of breakfast

School breakfast has been linked to improved nutrition[1], increased academic achievement[2] and a positive effect on students' attendance.[3]

However, despite the proven benefits of breakfast, there is still a large number of students who skip the meal, even when it is provided at school. The School Breakfast Program served breakfast to 14.6 million children daily in 2018, while the National School Lunch Program provided more than double that with 29.6 million daily lunches served to students that year.[4]

Why some students miss out on the morning meal

There are many reasons why students might not eat breakfast. Arriving at school too late because of a delayed bus or carpool keeps some students from eating breakfast, while others choose to use the early morning hours before class to socialize or participate in activities. Some students don’t have an appetite early in the morning, but may find that hunger strikes mid-morning. For some students, the location of the cafeteria can be inconvenient and a barrier to eating breakfast[5].

Flexible methods of service, fun foods boost breakfast participation

School foodservice providers can help students overcome these hurdles by offering breakfast options outside of the traditional cafeteria setting. Grab-and-go options take the time-crunch out of breakfast, and serving food in the classroom has been shown to increase participation in school breakfast[6].

For these flexible methods of service that rely on offering food outside of the cafeteria, packaged products and otherwise self-contained items can offer convenience and cut down on mess. Apples, bananas, milk cartons, yogurt cups and packaged grain items all have potential for a grab-and-go breakfast station or assembled meals served in the cafeteria or classroom.

For a simple grain option that can be used in a variety of school meals, Campbell’s Foodservice offers a line of Goldfish products for K-12. Goldfish Grahams contain 1 oz. grain equivalent per package and can help school foodservice operations meet the USDA meal pattern requirements. They can also be sold a la carte because they meet USDA Smart Snack standards.                                                                                                            

The fun flavors and familiar fish shape make Goldfish crackers an appealing addition to the morning meal for students, which can help schools ensure the food they serve gets eaten. Student acceptance is the most significant barrier to schools increasing the proportion of whole grain-rich options[7], and many students may already be enjoying Goldfish products at home. The brand is the No. 1 cracker brand among households with kids under 12, according to IRI data.[8]

Schools can feature Goldfish Grahams in a range of breakfast dishes. Goldfish Giant Grahams can be an on-the-go dipper for a container of yogurt, while the traditional small graham crackers can be a fun topping for a fruit parfait.

Download this infographic for more information on creating an effective school breakfast strategy with Goldfish, and visit the Campbell’s Foodservice site to learn more about Goldfish products and get recipes that can work for your school breakfast menu.

 [1] Frisvold, David. (2015). Nutrition and Cognitive Achievement: An Evaluation of the School Breakfast Program. Journal of Public Economics.

[2] Ibid.

[3]  Cueto, S. (2001). Breakfast and performance. Public Health Nutrition.

[4] https://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/child-nutrition-tables, FY2018.

[5] The School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference presentation, “Leading the Way to Grow Breakfast Participation.”

[6] Bernstein, L.S., McLaughlin, J.E., Crepinsek, M.K., and Daft, L.M. (2004). Evaluation of the School Breakfast Program Pilot Project: Final Report. Nutrition Assistance Program Report Series No. CN-04-SBP. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Analysis, Nutrition, and Evaluation, Alexandria, VA.

[7] School Nutrition Association. “2019 School Nutrition Trends Report.” August 2019.

[8] IRI Total US All Outlets, latest 52 weeks through January 2019.