Creating an Appetite for Success

By Tanna Nicely
September 2, 2014
Lunchroom Children

As an educator, my purpose is to lay the foundation for students to learn and inspire them to do the very best that they can each day.  In the fall of 2012, we discovered that something was hindering our success right from the start:  A large number of students at Sarah Moore Greene were coming to class hungry. 

While our cafeteria was serving breakfast each morning, we learned that most of the students were not eating it. So we brought a nutritious breakfast to where they were – the classroom – through a program implemented by Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, which is funded by the Walmart Foundation.

I wanted to provide each child with the opportunity to start their morning in the best way possible, so they have a positive attitude and enough energy to learn throughout the day. Ever since we began serving breakfast in the classroom, I have seen a tremendous improvement in the behavior and aptitude of our students. Now, students arrive to school promptly, are more attentive and work harder on their assignments. Numerous published studies show that academic achievement among students who eat school breakfast tends to improve, especially in vocabulary, math, and standardized tests.

The rate of children being fed in our school doubled in the first semester through the implementation of the program.  Students were not coming to the office asking for food or acting out because of a lack of food. 

With breakfast in the classroom, I have also witnessed a sense of camaraderie and students being more willing to open up and show their unique personalities. Sharing a morning meal for just a few minutes before diving straight into lessons provides students with a sense of community.

Taking hunger out of the equation as a barrier to educating our youth was a huge obstacle our school overcame, and I’m so happy to see that now the only thing my students are hungry for is knowledge.   

Tanna Nicely is a former assistant principal at Sarah Moore Greene Elementary in Knoxville, Tenn.