Grab N’ Go Breakfast Brings New Energy to School
Mornings at Hmong International Academy (HIA), located in Minneapolis, Minn., used to be chaotic. Students would amble in the hallways and often be late for class. Teachers would struggle to usher kids into classrooms. There were sometimes even behavior issues to deal with.
Then HIA rolled out a new Grab N' Go breakfast service model and everything changed. The on-the-go breakfast, proving to be a big hit with students and teachers alike, is part of Second Harvest Heartland’s Food + You program. Students grab a nutritious breakfast from kiosks and then head to their classrooms to eat. HIA offers free breakfast to all students. With this change in their breakfast model, they went from serving 260 to 402 students on their first day!
Gao Xiong is HIA’s assistant principal. "I thought our first day went really smoothly,” she said. “We were able to serve about 430 breakfasts. There was a noticeable difference. Students were on time to class and the building had a calm that I haven’t ever felt before.”
Here’s how it works: Students pick up packaged breakfasts from mobile service carts in high traffic areas that are convenient to students, such as hallways, entryways or cafeterias. A breakfast package includes a fruit, protein, grain and juice or milk. Students have the option to eat in their classroom before and after the bell has rung. Allowing students to take their time and eat their breakfast in the classroom, makes it easier for them and more likely that they’ll get in a nutritious meal before the start of the day.
According to Xiong, the Grab N’ Go breakfast makes the whole day run just a little smoother. That’s because having a healthy breakfast at the start of the day helps students have more energy and focus so they do better in school.
HIA is using its new breakfast model to further engage students and support Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), a key focus area for Minneapolis Public Schools. SEL is a more holistic approach to learning that focuses on the whole child and the social and emotional skills they need to succeed. Studies show that students who are exposed to SEL demonstrate improved social behaviors and social skills and increased academic achievement. Schools that commit to supporting and promoting students' social and emotional growth create safe, equitable and engaging environments that promote success for students from all backgrounds.
The school is currently conducting teacher and parent surveys about the breakfast program and plans to share the results with parents and other stakeholders. The information the school gleans from the surveys will be used to help further the SEL work the school is doing as part of Minneapolis Public Schools’ SEL cohort.
“Teachers have additional time to connect with students while eating breakfast because they’re in the classroom earlier,” Xiong said. “The mornings are so much nicer. I couldn’t imagine going back to the traditional cafeteria breakfast.”
Our Food + You school-based program aims to increase availability of healthy food resources to students and their families by partnering with participating schools in the metro area. This multi-dimensional program offers support for accessing existing federal nutrition program and connections to broader community resources and food distributions. Learn more about Food + You and how Second Harvest Heartland is helping create greater access to food for kids and their families.