FRAC’s longstanding partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), brought us — along with 3,000 principals from across the country — to the 2018 National Principals Conference to collaborate and share school breakfast strategies that can help improve student success. The conference was held in Chicago from July 11–13.

The principals’ leadership and support play integral roles in the success of their school’s breakfast program. Research shows that strong participation in school breakfast helps ensure that students have the nutrition they need to excel in school; however, school breakfast participation tends to be lower in secondary schools than in elementary schools, resulting in fewer teens benefiting from improved educational, health, and behavioral outcomes linked to school breakfast. Hectic morning schedules, late bus arrivals, and social stigma contribute to lower participation in secondary schools.

At the conference, FRAC had the opportunity to open two sessions and share the positive results of School Breakfast After the Bell: Equipping Students for Success, our joint report with NASSP. This report surveyed 105 secondary school principals whose schools offer breakfast after the bell programs. Secondary school principals reported many positive outcomes, including increased school breakfast participation, improved student attentiveness, fewer visits to the school nurse, improved classroom environments, fewer occurrences of absenteeism, fewer disciplinary referrals, and improved scores on reading and math tests.

Following the positive results of the survey, FRAC and NASSP disseminated the Secondary School Principals’ Breakfast After the Bell Toolkit to assist middle and high school principals with launching school breakfast programs that offer breakfast after the school day begins (known as breakfast after the bell) in order to increase participation in the program. Breakfast after the bell models, such as “grab and go” and second chance breakfast, and breakfast in the classroom, overcome many of the barriers to school breakfast participation by making it more accessible to middle and high school students. These models provide principals the option of offering breakfast from hallway kiosks, in the classroom after the start of the school day, or in between first and second periods. The toolkit includes strategies for launching a successful breakfast after the bell program, sample outreach materials, and event-planning resources.

For additional resources on improving access to school breakfast and implementing breakfast after the bell models, visit FRAC’s website on the School Breakfast Program.