Survey: Principals Embracing Breakfast in the Classroom

New Report Finds More Principals Supporting Breakfast in the Classroom to Boost Participation

Des Moines Public Schools was one of 15 school districts across the nation participating in the survey on the Breakfast in the Classroom program.

Washington, D.C. – Breakfast in the Classroom is leading to more children eating a healthy morning meal, and quickly is being embraced by more principals, including Des Moines Public Schools, in their schools. Start the School Day Ready to Learn with Breakfast in the Classroom: Principals Share What Works, a new report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and The National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation (NAESPF) finds that more than three in four principals would encourage their peers to consider this program.

For the report, FRAC and NAESPF surveyed 276 school principals from 15 school districts, including DMPS, whose schools operate Breakfast in the Classroom programs. The survey assessed their experience with their schools’ Breakfast in the Classroom programs, including challenges they encountered and factors that contribute to successful programs.

“Breakfast in the Classroom ensures children in our schools start the day with the fuel they need to learn and grow, said Sandy Huisman, director of food and nutrition for Des Moines Public Schools. “This is a remarkable program that is making a big difference for our students, and we encourage other principals to start looking at ways they can bring Breakfast in the Classroom to their schools.”

Findings from the report include:

  • Seventy-eight percent of principals surveyed said they would encourage other principals to consider Breakfast in the Classroom; 17 percent were neutral (neither encouraging nor discouraging); and only 5 percent disagreed.
  • Principals noted an increase in breakfast participation (85 percent), fewer reports of student hunger (61 percent), fewer tardy students (40 percent), improved student attentiveness (37 percent), and an improved school (34 percent) and classroom (35 percent) environment.

Nearly half of principals surveyed (47 percent) cited no challenges with starting up a Breakfast in the Classroom program. Those who did report challenges – clean-up, limited janitorial staffing, or concerns from teachers – often found that these issues were easily addressed by providing additional cleaning supplies and by working closely with teachers during implementation.

Des Moines Public Schools kicked off participation in the Breakfast in the Classroom in the Fall of 2012.  The program is currently offered at 14 schools throughout the community: Carver, Cattell, Edmunds, Findley, Howe, King, Madison, McKinley, Monroe, South Union and Stowe elementary schools, and Hiatt, Hoyt and Weeks middle schools.

Participation in school breakfast provides countless educational and health benefits, yet only half of the low-income children who participate in school lunch eat school breakfast. Breakfast in the Classroom erases barriers to participation by making breakfast part of the school day and moving it out of the cafeteria and into the classroom.  

The report notes that it is never too late in the school year to make the transition to Breakfast in the Classroom. Principals can start taking important steps and reach out to other school leaders to start building a path toward implementing Breakfast in the Classroom in their schools.

The full report can be downloaded by clicking here.


For Start the School Day Ready to Learn with Breakfast in the Classroom: Principals Share What Works, FRAC and NAESP surveyed 276 principals with Breakfast in the Classroom programs in their schools about their experiences with the program and about the effect the program had on their schools and students. Surveyed school districts include: Charleston County School District, SC; Chicago Public Schools, IL; Dallas Independent School District, TX; Denver Public Schools, CO; Des Moines Public Schools, IA; Detroit Public Schools, MI; District of Columbia Public Schools, D.C.; Elgin School District U-46, IL; Guilford County Schools, NC; Jefferson County Public Schools, KY; Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, KS; Knox County Schools, TN; Memphis City Schools, TN; Orange County Public Schools, FL; and Prince George’s County Public Schools, MD.