(Courtesy photo)

SF schools make it easy for students to eat a healthy breakfast

This week, the San Francisco Unified School District, along with other districts across the nation, are celebrating National School Breakfast Week.

On Friday, I will be eating breakfast in the classroom with a student who will be eating the one millionth breakfast served in SFUSD this year.

That’s right, we will be eating breakfast in the classroom, not the traditional cafeteria setting. But this is not a special event because of National School Breakfast Week — in fact, every student at MLK can eat breakfast in their classrooms during the first 30 minutes of school every single day.

Making it easy to eat a healthy breakfast

For many of our SFUSD students, it can be difficult to get to school in time for breakfast before the bell rings. Transportation challenges, unpredictable delays, lack of appetite in the early morning, and rushed morning routines are only a few reasons why some may miss breakfast before school. By offer breakfast in places after the start of the school day, students have better accessibility to nutritious food that will help them concentrate on their learning.

Breakfast in the Classroom is just one of the “Breakfast After the Bell” models – other SFUSD schools serve breakfast in several locations throughout the school (Grab n Go) or during mid-morning breaks and advisory periods (Second Chance). Schools with Breakfast After the Bell models have seen increased breakfast participation, decreased complaints of hunger pains, less disruptions in classrooms, and higher consumption of fruits.

Feeding breakfast to more students than ever

We have seen growth in students eating breakfast at school since offering breakfast in the classroom — up from an average of 19 percent of students eating breakfast to over 70 percent! At Dr. Martin Luther King Academic Middle School over 175 students are eating breakfast every day, compared to only 20 before the school started offering breakfast in the classroom.

SFUSD’s Student Nutrition Services has been partnering with the national nonprofit Share Our Strength and our local healthy meal partner Revolution Foods, to provide these new and innovative models and make sure all students have equal access to school breakfast.

Currently, 30 schools in SFUSD have incorporated some form of breakfast after the bell into their school day and now almost 8,000 students in the district start their day with school breakfast every morning. And more schools are adding after the bell options.

This week during National School Breakfast Week, SFUSD will be celebrating with other fun activities, including the Daily Breakfast Challenge, which challenges schools to increase breakfast participation by 30 percent.

San Francisco community leaders — both within and outside the district — will also be joining me in eating breakfast with students throughout this week.

Be sure to check the district Twitter page as well as Student Nutrition Services’ Instagram to see pictures of how schools will be celebrating National School Breakfast Week this year!

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.

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