Did you know your child can eat a hot breakfast at school every day of the week? And that if your child qualifies for free or reduced lunch, the same benefits apply to breakfast and they can eat at the free/reduced rate for both meals each school day?
Pickens County Schools Nutrition Director Beth Thompson is gearing up for the
Atlanta Community Food Bank Breakfast Challenge to highlight the breakfast program, increase breakfast participation, and provide students with the nutrition necessary to perform at their best in the classroom. Studies show a strong correlation between eating breakfast and better school performance among children.
“Right now, participation is pretty small,” Thompson said. “We’re really wanting to get schools to think outside of the box, and try to implement some new ideas to get these kids eating breakfast.”
At the high school level, Thompson said after receiving a grant from the Atlanta Food Band they started a “Second Chance” breakfast this year at the high school where students can buy breakfast biscuits from a strategically-placed breakfast cart after regular breakfast hours. This option has increased participation there from about 100 students a day to between 250 or 300. Thompson would like to try second chance breakfast at the junior high level as well, with breakfast cart “grab and go” meals offered after morning bell time, with other ideas for lower grade levels that are being hammered out by her and other administrators.
Students who arrive early to school are asked to go to the gym or cafeteria or other location depending on the school, and many students often choose socializing over eating breakfast. Breakfast for students is $1.25 at every grade level, but the 51 percent of students on free and reduced lunch can eat at those reduced rates.
“I don’t think people realize that if they are eligible it applies at breakfast, too,” Thompson said. “We don’t feed 100 percent of these kids on the free and reduced program, but we definitely want to.”
Students can choose between two and three entrée options, with provide students with a grain, protein, dairy, and fruit. Breakfast sandwiches, waffles, omelets, cereal, honey buns, breakfast pizza, and grits and some of the many items that appear on breakfast menus, which can be found on the school’s nutrition website.
Five of the county’s public schools with the best marketing ideas were selected to participate (five was the maximum number allowed). The schools will be asked to implement a new marketing strategy to get more kids to eat breakfast at school during the week of March 4-8. The school with the highest increase in participation from the district for that week will receive $1,000.