Making sure students get a healthy breakfast

Students do better in school when they have access to healthy breakfasts, and at the San Francisco Unified School District we are committed to providing this essential nutrition to all students who need it. Each school day, more than 7,900 SFUSD students depend on school breakfast. As part of National School Breakfast Week, we’re celebrating the impact breakfast has on our students and highlighting our goals to increase access across the district.

Traditional school breakfast programs call for students to eat in the cafeteria before the school day begins. For many students and families, it can be difficult to get to school in time before the bell rings, which is why some schools have begun implementing “Breakfast After the Bell” programs.

Breakfast After the Bell

Breakfast After the Bell can include serving breakfast in the classroom, on a hallway cart (Grab n Go) or during mid-morning breaks (Second Chance). Schools with Breakfast After the Bell programs see an increased number of students eating breakfast, which has many benefits.

A recent study also shows that Breakfast After the Bell programs can decrease chronic absenteeism rates.

Breakfast in the Classroom, in particular, is a proven model to ensure students have access to a meal to start their school day. This means more students are beginning their school day ready and prepared to learn and participate in classes and activities.

In a study of three SFUSD elementary schools with similar enrollment and percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals:

18% of students participated in traditional breakfast before school

31% of students participated in Second Chance breakfast

83% of students participated in Breakfast in the Classroom

With this research and the support of the nonprofit Share Our Strength, SFUSD has committed to expanding Breakfast After the Bell programs from 30 to 81 schools by 2024, with a focus on schools with large populations of low-income children.

Investing in Better School Kitchens

One key to successful meal programs are school kitchen facilities that allow our dining staff to prepare and serve good food for our students. We’ve seen the difference investing in our kitchen facilities can make. Since opening the McAteer Culinary Center in October, the number of students eating breakfast has increased from an average of four to over 100 per day! This new facility is a small-scale model for a future central kitchen for the district, and showcases just how good school food can be with the right equipment, ingredients, staff, and dining area for students.

Celebrating National School Breakfast Week

This week, we are celebrating National School Breakfast Week across the district. Select schools will be participating in the Daily Breakfast Challenge, where students earn prizes by eating a healthy breakfast at school. We’ll be sharing about breakfast at SFUSD, including our new menu items, at @sfusdschoolfood on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Follow along!

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