Apples and ACEs: Why Everyone Should Care about School Breakfast

posted on Thu, Feb 23 2017 12:42 pm by Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships

If you asked a child in your life to draw a picture of their typical day, what would you would see?

For children living in adverse experiences and environments, the drawing might not be so bright and cheerful.

A few days ago, I wrote an article featuring opportunities to collaborate with your school, including National School Breakfast Week  (March 6-10). It doesn't matter what time of day you’re focused on – before school, in school or afterschool - breakfast is an important part of any child’s day.

A child struggling with discrimination, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) need us to collaborate, even if our programming looks different or happens at different times.

Because so many children live in adverse situations, programs like school breakfast are essential opportunities to design experiences that build resilience through fun and intentional enrichment.

Inspired by DC Hunger Solutions #HearTheCrunch challenge, here are 6 apple-themed activities to celebrate School Breakfast Week and promote social connectedness through short creative enrichment projects.

*All photos provided by DC Hunger Solutions

1. Make Your Snack Social. Have fun and make some noise for children's health. Take the #HearTheCrunch challenge for School Breakfast Week. Just snap a selfie biting into an apple and tag it. Do it alone, with teammates and family members to demonstrate how your school community is working together to build social supports for children. Here are 10 tips for shopping smart to help you save money!

2. Celebrate Imperfection. When was the last time you were in the grocery store and picked a perfect looking apple over a misshapen one? Help set the tone that tasty fruits and veggies come in all shapes and sizes. Host a School Breakfast Week art competition where students draw, color or paint fun fruit superheroes.

Looking for a healthy prize? Try an apple-themed book. Invite your janitor, city councilmember or sheriff to be a celebrity judge.

3. Create a Vibrant Welcome Experience. Foster youth leadership and ask students to create an apple trivia bulletin board for School Breakfast Week. As my colleague Michelle says, “keep healthy messages on loop” and provide take-home flyers too. Don’t forget to take pictures and share on social media and in your e-newsletter. Make sure everyone knows that school breakfast and nutrition enrichment are part of your overall school-community strategy.

4. Make Drop Off and Pick Up Engaging. Host a lightning-fast apple taste test in the morning for caregivers dropping students off. Pick fun varieties like “jazz” and “Fuji” to create intentional linkages to music and global learning. Use enrichment activities to create new partnerships with staff who typically aren’t involved with your school breakfast program.

5. Be a Literacy Hero. This School Breakfast Week, connect with your school’s English, ESL or language arts teacher! Work together on a special apple poem activity or healthy poetry slam. Tell them why you’re passionate about school breakfast and nutrition enrichment. Here are even more literacy ideas and background on social connectedness, literacy and resilience

6. Think Big! Great change can start with a simple apple. Making healthy food and enrichment the norm for children and families could be the first step that helps you make even bigger changes, like healthy concessions, sporting event sales and fundraisers.

If we want to create communities where children are surrounded by positivity, validation and collaboration, it takes all of us working together. Imagine the possibilities if afterschool staff were champions for school breakfast and school food service staff were champions for out-of-school time and summer learning. Our strategies may vary, but the children are the same and they need all of us.

Thank you to my colleague Michelle for sharing her tips on family engagement!

Want more on school breakfast? Here are 3 Ways to Serve a Healthy Morning Meal in Honor of National School Breakfast Week.

To learn more about adverse childhood experiences and get access to resources to help you build resiliency, visit go.gwu.edu/BCR