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. Additionally, we partnered with Maine’s Department of Education to disperse $21,528 of federal funds to 10 more schools. Our grant program and these federal funds prioritize Breakfast After the Bell models such as Breakfast in the Classroom, an established best practice that makes school breakfasts more accessible and efficient. 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. The middle school’s breakfast program now feeds 250-300 students in about 15 minutes! We are amazed at how their program has evolved over the years and proud to be supporting their continued growth.
How it All Began
MSAD 60 first started Breakfast in the Classroom at Noble High School in September of 1994. The school nutrition team implemented the program as a pilot project, led by Kim Smith, and they bought their first breakfast cart. Each morning, Smith started the day by loading up the 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 pay for their breakfast 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. She would continue to make the rounds on the second and third floors, stopping back in the kitchen to refill the cart when needed. 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, implementing the same breakfast program for the middle school students was a no-brainer.
Over the years, Noble High School and now Noble Middle School have expanded their breakfast programs and are always trying out new recipes and finding ways to serve more kids. They purchased a second breakfast cart to deliver meals and love to bake 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 purchased a third breakfast cart and now provide a seamless breakfast service. With high-quality and long-lasting equipment, they can continue to focus on 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.