Percentage of Highland students eating food at the beginning of the school day jumps

    The numbers tell the story: The new “Breakfast in the Classroom” initiative implemented at Highland School during the 2017-18 school year resulted in many more kids eating a variety of breakfast food items as they started their school day.

    Crookston School District Food Services Director Anna Brekken reports that 73 percent of Highland students eligible for free and reduced meals ate food in the morning once Breakfast in the Classroom was launched, up from the previous average of 33 percent of free and reduced-eligible students eating something.

    The Breakfast in the Classroom name for the initiative is the best explanation of what sets it apart from previous before-school breakfast programs in the school cafeteria. In explaining the program before its launch, Brekken said that too often too many kids wouldn’t come into the cafeteria to grab something to eat before school because they wanted to keep playing outside with their friends, or maybe they simply didn’t want other kids to know that they were eligible for free and reduced meals, so they skipped their chance to get something to eat.

    With Breakfast in the Classroom, thanks to a National Football League grant tied to the 2018 Super Bowl being played in Minneapolis, large padded coolers on carts are wheeled into Highland classrooms as the school day is beginning, and everyone, including kids who aren’t eligible for free and reduced meals, can choose to get something to eat. After 15 to 20 minutes or so of eating and chatting with their teachers about the academic plans for the day, everything is cleaned up, gathered up and wheeled out of the classroom.

    “It’s been a positive change for the school environment and as a program meeting the needs of a demographic that can really benefit,” Brekken said.

    Breakfast in the Classroom will return in the fall, she added.