This year, AUSD has been approved to receive a grant in the amount of $134,765 by the California Department of Education to bolster the district’s school breakfast program. This grant will affect seven elementary schools including Baldwin, Fremont, Granada, Garfield, Park, Ramona and Ynez along with all three high schools. Due to the lack of daily student participation in school breakfast juxtaposed with the overwhelming evidence of breakfast benefits, AUSD is attempting to adopt new strategies to increase the number of students who eat breakfast on a daily basis. The money will be used to purchase new equipment that will create easy breakfast access for students and also to launch an improved outreach program to promote what is widely considered the most important meal of the day.
Last year, AUSD noticed some staggering numbers in terms of daily student participation in school breakfast programs. Out of all students in the district, only 22% of students participated. More specifically, 16.8% of K-8 students and only 4.8% of high school students ate school breakfast on a daily basis. AUSD found that the main reason why students do not participate is because of the inconvenience factor. The majority of students oppose going out of their way to wait in line in the cafeteria and having to walk across campus to get to their classroom, causing tardiness. With the money from the grant, AUSD will purchase food-sealing machines and will set up a “grab-n-go” breakfast distribution system. Instead of students waiting in long lines, the schools will bring the line to them by setting up pick-up stations throughout the campus, primarily near the entrances. Students will be able to pick up a convenient, pre-packaged breakfast as soon as they get to campus, making it easier to get their food and speed up the process of getting to class. The pre-packaged system will also assist with portion control and will ensure that each meal will provide students with the right balance of nutrients.
The remaining funds from the grant will be used to create an outreach program aimed at promoting the benefits of eating breakfast through informational brochures and videos for both students and parents. The informational brochures will highlight facts supported by research, such as daily consumption of breakfast leads to better test scores, less behavioral problems, reduced absences, less hunger related health problems and a more attentive student. The film aspect of the outreach program will be aimed toward primarily high school students and will include the students themselves speaking about the positive benefits they have experienced by eating breakfast on a daily basis and promoting the diverse menu of options that students can choose from.
Through the implementation of this new system, AUSD expects student participation in school breakfast will increase by at least 10% after the first year and hopes to improve even more in years to come.