School IPM Best Practices

Indoor BMPs: Breakfast in the Classroom

Breakfast in the classroom (BIC) is a school-based food serving program typically provided in three ways: 1) food service staff delivers meals to classrooms before or during instruction, 2) students pick up meals on the way to class, 3) students eat during a mid-morning break between classroom instruction.

BIC programs can exacerbate pest problems in the classroom because they significantly increases the amount and types of food eaten in the classroom, and the amount of time food waste is present.

Integrated pest management (IPM) strategies address pest issues because eating, food and drink storage, and the presence of microwaves and refrigerators in the classroom provides ideal pest habitat.

General pesticide safety means use of labeled products only as determined by state and local regulations, and applied by licensed pesticide applicators.

Effective training creates understanding of pest problems and their potential solutions:

  • Facility managers and custodial supervisors: oversee cleaning and waste management according to established IPM guidelines
  • Custodians: classroom cleaning, waste management, pest reporting, and prevention
  • Food service directors: selection of food and drink packaging that minimizes pest issues
  • Staff and teachers: follow IPM prevention in food distribution, storage, waste management, and cleanup

Consider the following criteria for your district policy:

  • Easy-open packaging that reduces spills, acts as a place mat and a wrap for disposal (such as “grab n go” bags); compare environmental impact of disposables
  • Food items with minimal crumbs and stickiness (and minimal attractiveness to fruit flies)
  • Food storage protocols for types of food and containers, location (prohibit storage of food in desks and closets), time limits on storage, use of snap-tight or screw-top lids on sealed pest proof tubs
  • Spill-resistant, easy-open rinsable drink containers that don’t leave pest-attracting residue
  • Drain liquids into rinsable sinks or buckets; use proper leak-resistant trash bags
  • Create guidelines for distribution of extra food, including “take-home” packaging
  • Create a schedule for cleaning

Reduce harborage (places for pests to live and hide):

  • Check and clean necessary refrigerators and microwaves on a regular basis
  • Reduce clutter and use easy-to-clean shelving; eliminate furniture that collects food crumbs

Waste management for BIC trash and recycling collection:

  • Determine who: cleans up sinks, backsplashes, and desks; rinses containers, mops up spills
  • Determine what tools and products (nontoxic cleaning supplies and instruction protocols) are used by students or staff: small vacuums, larger HEPA filtration vacuums, paper towels, or wet wipes?
  • Choose the best wheeled bins possible—self-closing lids are ideal
  • Aim for double-bagging trash containers to reduce residue and possible spills
  • Determine schedule and responsibility for collecting and removing trash (Kept in hallway or classroom? Removed after breakfast or at end of day?)
  • Empty and rinse recyclables
  • Reassess program on a regular basis with an annual survey for all participants

Rather than recreate resources, we suggest you visit the two websites linked below which are devoted to making breakfast in the classroom a pleasant and pest-free program in your schools.

Common Pests

Resources (PDFs)

For More Information