Saying Yes.

Millions of kids in America face the school day on an empty stomach. But hungry kids can’t learn. Simply making breakfast a part of the school day changes everything. This spring, we are on track to announce one million more kids are eating school breakfast! This accomplishment is only possible because of the hard-working school leaders in communities across the country.  

In honor of National School Breakfast Week, we bring you today’s School Breakfast Hero, Matt Mellor, Principal, Daisy Bates Elementary School, Pulaski County, AR.

Saying Yes.

When asked about implementing breakfast in the classroom in his elementary school, Matt Mellor humbly remarks that he didn’t play much of a role except to say “yes” to his district’s school nutrition director. We all know that “yes” can be a powerful word especially when it comes to change.

Matt paints a vivid picture of how school breakfast operated – and affected students – before and after implementation of breakfast in the classroom. Previously in his school of 500 students, only 200 were eating school breakfast in the morning. Kids would arrive 25 minutes early, be ordered to stand in line quietly, ushered through to get their meal, and asked to sit down. Often, students did not have time to consume their meal before the bell rang and they rushed to the classroom. As Matt recalls, “kids were constantly being fussed at by adults to settle down, stand in line and hurry up. It was not a great start to their day.”

A new morning routine.

Today, the cafeteria delivers insulated bags filled with breakfast to each classroom before the start of the day. Students look forward to being welcomed into the classroom by teachers and friends with a nutritious breakfast ready at their desk. They eat as a family in a calm setting that sets the tone for the remainder of the day. Matt can’t think of a better way to build a caring community than to start the morning with breakfast together.

Group of Kids

Breakfast changed the entire day.

Matt is an enthusiastic proponent of breakfast in the classroom citing fewer discipline issues, nurse visits and tardiness. He debunks some common myths to help others get started:

  • Doesn’t it take away instructional time? Before breakfast in the classroom, teachers used to spend more time dealing with discipline issues. Take those issues away and breakfast in the classroom actually adds to students’ productive time. Teachers use breakfast time for journal writing, calendar math or other activities to jumpstart the day.  
  • Won’t this be more work for teachers? At Daisy Bates, students apply and are selected to earn the job of classroom chef.  These chefs are responsible for opening the bags and delivering the food so that breakfast is ready and available when the entire class arrives.
  • What about the mess? Each classroom is provided wipes. After breakfast, the students wipe their desks down and take care of their own area. Before breakfast in the classroom, those desks didn’t get cleaned very often. Now, Matt says they have the cleanest desks in the world! 
  • Isn’t it expensive? No. Any additional increase in cost was offset by doubling the number of breakfast served with the additional federal reimbursement. They also received a small grant to purchase the breakfast bags.