Michigan Schools Boost Breakfast!

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Michigan Department of Education, Team Nutrition Program

In case you haven’t noticed, three million more school breakfasts were served to Michigan students this past year, which helped them start the school day alert, well-fed, and ready to learn.  This boost in number of breakfasts served was due to: a superintendent’s challenge, a $350,000 Michigan Department of Education Team Nutrition grant, over $350,000 in grants from United Dairy Industry of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan ($250,000) and Michigan Action for Healthy Kids ($175,000), and most importantly the creativity, effort, and commitment of over 500 Michigan school foodservice directors and building decision makers to make it a priority to “boost breakfast.”

It began with a challenge. The First Fuel School Breakfast Challenge was issued by Michigan Superintendent Mike Flanagan in 2013. The challenge was to have at least 60% of students who participate in the National School Lunch Program also participate in the School Breakfast Program. 

Why breakfast? According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) School Breakfast Scorecard, participation in school breakfast programs do more than reduce student hunger; they have also been linked with improved overall dietary quality; a lower probability of overweight and obesity; fewer incidences of tardiness, absenteeism, and disciplinary problems; and fewer visits to the school nurse.

Michigan Department of Education’s Team Nutrition:  Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, a $350,000 Michigan Team Nutrition Boost Breakfast grant was developed as a complimentary aspect to the 2013 Superintendent Breakfast Challenge. Approximately 970 school nutrition professionals were trained through regional trainings (295), local School Nutrition Association of Michigan meetings (354), and professional conferences 329). Over 14,000 unique visitors gathered boost breakfast information from the Boost Breakfast Michigan landing page (www.boostbreakfast.com).  Over 5300 viewed Michigan Foodservice professionals boost breakfast videos to be inspired and learn from peers.

Additional support came from state-level partners including $250,000 in grants from the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM).  Michigan Action for Healthy Kids provided $175,000 to fund 70 schools an average of$2,500 each to create or expand school breakfast programs. Michigan No Kid Hungry worked with schools to implement new ways to serve breakfast that make breakfast a part of every student’s morning schedule. 

Michigan School Nutrition Professionals Are Creative! Over 500 Michigan school foodservice professionals and building decision makers responded to the call to “boost breakfast.”  They tested and advocated for moving breakfast out of its traditional place – the cafeteria.  Some tried Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab ‘N Go Breakfast Carts, while others served breakfast after first hour as a Second Chance Breakfast, or through a vending machine.  Some even tried breakfast on a bus to ensure students who travel more than 60 minutes to school arrive at school ready to learn.

Michigan’s boost breakfast efforts are working. As of November 2015, the total breakfast to lunch ratio increased 5.6% (42.9% to 48.5%). This equates to more than 3 million additional breakfasts being served!  It’s also important to note that while total breakfast servings increased 5% during this time period, student enrollment in Michigan decreased 2.4%. 1,076 schools were successful in increasing their breakfast participation to 60%. 

Watch and learn.  Want to know how they did it?  Short videos of Michigan’s school breakfast success, and former Michigan Superintendent Mike Flanagan’s congratulations to Michigan schools on their school breakfast efforts, can be viewed on the Michigan Team Nutrition YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/miteamnutrition1

For more information on Michigan’s Boost Breakfast Initiative contact Nick Drzal, Michigan Department of Education School Nutrition Programs, at 517) 373-8121 or Drzaln@michigan.gov.

This story is part of a School Breakfast Success Story Compendium by Michigan Team Nutrition. To read more success stories, click here!


Nicholas Drzal, RD, MPH, Michigan Department of Education

Chris Flood, MS; Nutrition Communications Consultant, Healthy Habits Today