Breakfast After the Bell: MSAD 60

In the fall and winter of the 2021-22 school year, Full Plates awarded 19 Breakfast Grants, totaling $71,334 in funding. This grant program prioritizes Breakfast After the Bell models such as Breakfast in the Classroom. Among our grantees was Noble Middle School in MSAD 60. Back in the ’90s, when what is now Noble Middle School was Noble High School, one of our Child Nutrition Consultants Lynnette Harriman worked in this district to help start their Breakfast in the Classroom program. We are amazed at how their program has evolved over the years and proud to be supporting their continued growth.

How it All Began

Their program first started in September of 1994. Noble High School implemented a Breakfast After the Bell program as a pilot project and bought their first breakfast cart to deliver meals to students in their classrooms. Each morning, Kitchen Manager Kim Smith started the day by loading up this metal cart with the day’s breakfast options. Beginning on the ground floor, Smith left the kitchen right after the first bell. She wheeled the cart from room to room and knocked on classroom doors to announce that breakfast was ready. Popping her head into the classroom, she let the students know what was for breakfast that day: maybe oatmeal or a bagel and cream cheese, and always milk and a side of fruit. Kids would come out into the hall, line up around the cart, and punch their numbers into a pin pad before taking their tray back into the classroom.

After visiting students on the first floor, Smith would squeeze the breakfast cart into an elevator not much bigger than the cart itself and make the rounds on the second and third floors. Visiting all three floors in under an hour, she would get back to the cafeteria with plenty of time to start preparing lunch.

In the very first week of running this program, Noble High School’s breakfast count doubled. Bringing food directly to students made breakfast more accessible and efficient, making breakfast the easy choice. It also helped reduce the stigma sometimes associated with having to eat breakfast in the school cafeteria, which was located far away from the classrooms at the other end of the building.

Expanding and Looking Forward

The immediate success of this program increased the school nutrition budget, as they were now getting reimbursed for more meals. What started as a pilot program was made permanent in February of 1995 and has continued since. When this building became Noble Middle School in 2001, after the new Noble High School opened, continuing the breakfast program was a no-brainer.

“Everyone loved this program – students, custodians, teachers, the principal. They were all great supporters of the breakfast cart.”

Lynnette Harriman, former MSAD 60 School Nutrition Director

Over the years, Noble High School and now Noble Middle School have expanded their breakfast program and are always trying out new recipes and finding ways to serve more kids. They purchased a second breakfast cart to deliver meals and have started baking some breakfast options from scratch. Some recent favorite recipes include homemade coffee cake and homemade muffins!

During the pandemic, school meals have been free to all students. The recent School Meals for All legislation will ensure that these meals continue to be free for Maine students starting in the 2022-23 school year. At Noble Middle School, meal participation has increased significantly now that cost is no longer a barrier. To accommodate this increased participation, Noble Middle School applied for and received a Full Plates grant. With these funds, they will be purchasing a third breakfast cart. With a cart for each floor, they look forward to providing a seamless breakfast service so they can continue to do what they do best: feed kids.

Watch: Learn more about how their Breakfast in the Classroom model works. Hear from school staff and administration on the impacts of this investment.

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