If breakfast is the most important meal of the day for kids, an effective School Breakfast Program is essential for success. Students who eat breakfast are more likely to be high achieving in class, score higher on tests and have been concentration during class. All of that sounds great, but how do you get students to take the time to eat breakfast? Grab-N-Go is one of the most popular School Breakfast Programs because it is quick, easy and commonly produces results. According to No Kid Hungry, after schools implement a Grab-N-Go breakfast model, they reach an average of 63 percent breakfast participation.
Deborah Shiflett, Purchasing Coordinator at Chesterfield County Public Schools in Chesterfield, Virginia, had been running a traditional breakfast line through the cafeterias in their 65 schools until four years ago. She had the opportunity to try using a Grab-N-Go format using Cambro’s Camshelving® Flex Station made with Elements Series.
“We tried [the Flex Station] in one of our middle schools for one of the three grades and it actually doubled the participation in that grade level; actually, [the Flex Station] doubled the participation for the school. For that one grade level, where we were able to take the food out to the students in their area of the school building, and it encouraged more students to participate,” said Shiflett.
After the huge success they saw in their Grab-N-Go trial run, they started implementing the Flex Stations in more of their schools.
“We started out probably buying a couple and then we bought like six more, 12 more. We’ve probably now purchased our district probably at least 150 of them,” said Shiflett.
At this point, Shiflett says more than two-thirds of Chesterfield County Public Schools have at least one Flex Station, with some schools having as many as five.
“Another big part of [the Flex Station] was the cost factor. They’re very inexpensive. Therefore, we were able to accommodate that a little bit more,” said Shiflett.
Recently, Chesterfield County Public Schools was awarded second place in Virginia for the highest number of breakfasts to increase within the last school year. Shiflett says they averaged a service of 760 more breakfasts per day than the previous year.
“Having the [Flex Stations] in the schools has definitely encouraged more students to participate because they can come to those locations,” said Shiflett. “More students are participating because now they don’t have to wait in line, they’re closer to their classroom, they don’t have to go as far to get the breakfast.”
As if the numbers weren’t enough to prove the students like their new Grab-N-Go system, they’ve had plenty of verbal feedback to reinforce that sentiment.
“The kids absolutely love it. Back when we started it in one of the elementary schools, the kids felt like they were going to a convenience store being able to pick up and choose what they wanted on the line. The kids really seem to like that as well because you’re actually taking the food out there to them and it’s right near their classrooms. They seem to really enjoy that,” said Shiflett.
Schools have a varying menu that features sausage biscuits, chicken biscuits, mini waffles, mini pancakes, sweet potato swirl rolls, banana breads, cereal, yogurt and muffins. Shiflett likes the flexibility of being able to put different size pans into the Flex Station to individualize the design to each school.
While they’re always looking to adopt the new breakfast program model in more of their schools, they also started experimenting with using the Flex Station as a condiment station during lunch in their elementary schools.
Are you looking to implement or upgrade your Grab-N-Go breakfast program? Contact your Cambro rep today to see how you could increase the efficiency and participation in your school.