Lake Marion Elementary is pioneering a new classroom breakfast program for its students that helps build a sense of community. Every morning after dropping off their backpacks and coats, all Lake Marion students have the opportunity to grab a breakfast and eat in the classroom. In Minnesota, all kindergartners get a free breakfast along with any student who qualifies for a free/reduced-price lunch.
The program was implemented through a schedule change at the beginning of the day. As part of Lake Marion Elementary’s work with Social and Emotional Learning, the change allows every child who chooses to eat breakfast at school the time they need while also getting to be engaged in the social aspects of the classroom community. Lake Marion Principal Bret Domstrand and his LME team have been working over the last two weeks fine-tuning this new program that values eating and classroom time.
“Studies show students learn better when they’ve had a well-balanced breakfast. By moving breakfast into the classroom, we are giving each student access and opportunity to get the nourishment they need to learn.” said Kristen Rezac, Student Nutrition Coordinator.
The change at Lake Marion overcomes a challenge faced in previous years. There was a short window for breakfast and around 100 students were missing some of the most critical times with their teachers and classmates.
“It used to be difficult for students who chose to eat breakfast at school to get to the cafeteria, eat their meal, and be back in the classroom in just seven to ten minutes before class started,” explained Domstrand as he recalled previous years. “With our students being rushed through the breakfast process, we were starting many kids off on the wrong foot by hurrying them out of the cafeteria. We could see kids weren’t getting enough time to eat after getting off the bus, so we decided to make a change to the system,” explained Mr. Domstrand.
“The next logical thing for us to do was to remove the barrier of eating breakfast in a proper amount of time. Now we have our students eating breakfast while getting to be part of the classroom. It’s a win for everyone,” said Mr. Domstrand.
To implement the program, Lake Marion modified the master schedule so no student would need to be in a specialist class, such as gym or music, or in small groups until 9:45 a.m. That allows time for every class to spend the first twenty minutes of the school day building community, developing core social skills, and preparing for the day while also having the option to eat breakfast.
“Food is a big part of our social community, so getting time for the classroom community to be together through breakfast is really important for students’ social-emotional learning,” said Principal Domstrand.
Breakfast is widely considered to be the most important meal of the day. Each breakfast served at Lake Marion Elementary includes whole grains, fruit, and milk as required by USDA. Lakeville Area Schools’ Student Nutrition Services department also adds in protein whenever possible.
In the future, Student Nutrition is hoping to see this classroom breakfast program implemented at all eight elementary schools.