5 Ways to Increase Breakfast Participation

5 Ways to Increase Breakfast Participation

Fieldstone Bakery recently partnered with Foodservice Promotion to survey 500 school professionals across the United States. When asked what advice they would offer their colleagues at other school nutrition departments, there were 5 prevalent themes. Below we focus on the first theme, “Involve Students”.

#1: Involve Students

Getting Students Involved in the breakfast program is the single, most important element to its success.

Talk to the kids. Proactively engage the students as they come through the line for feedback on items being served that day or foods they would like to see on the menu. Be positive and provide friendly service. You will learn a lot through their engagement. Here are a few other ways to get student feedback and suggestions for your breakfast program:

  • Add a Suggestion Box or “My Favorite Breakfast” Post It Board
  • Sample new products with your students and pair with a simple thumbs up / thumbs down survey.
  • Survey students with a “Vote & Be Heard” promotion annually or semi-annually. This can be done as a paper survey or an online survey. Surveys can be eye-opening. One school thought their students wanted hot traditional items, but they actually wanted grab and go items that they could keep for later when they were hungry. If feedback remains anonymous, students may be more honest about why they do or do not participate in your program.
  • Have a formal discussion on a quarterly basis with focus groups of students, various classes or grade levels, or a more formal Council made up of selected students, staff and parents.

Your kids are your valued customers. Listen to what they have to say, and serve them what they like. They might not always get what they want on the menu, but when they feel like they have input, more students will eat breakfast.

#2: Offer Variety & Choices

Offer a variety of choices daily to make sure that as many preferences are covered as possible. When you can allow more options, you obtain more participation.

Include something hot, something cold that is easy to take with them, and something with protein like yogurt parfaits or smoothies in your daily offerings. While parfaits and smoothies are not the biggest sellers, they fit a niche because students perceive them as healthier options.

Feature two hot entree choices daily, and cereal every day. Also, give the students an option of grab & go bags with muffins, cereal bars, bagels, and/or banana bread. Many schools report increasing choices of hot and cold items at their high schools with multiple ways to create a reimbursable breakfast.

Cereal is easy and convenient and can make a positive impact on breakfast participation. One participant in the survey said, “By offering a cereal every day, the die-hard cereal eaters eat breakfast daily. It has increased our breakfast participation by about 30%.”

Rotate new items into the mix more frequently. Consider a longer menu cycle than every two weeks.

On occasion, test new breakfast themes that students will be interested in such as Breakfast Buffet Days when they can choose from several different items or “Create Your Own” themes applicable to Parfaits, Waffles, Scrambled Eggs, or Smoothies – offering the students the ultimate choice and control over their breakfast options.

McKee Foods, a family-owned company based in Collegedale, Tenn., introduced the Fieldstone® Bakery brand in 2007. The Fieldstone Bakery brand is all about meeting the needs of foodservice customers. A wide-variety of bakery snacks, snack bars, and granola cereal are available under the Fieldstone Bakery brand.