State and local officials visited Swanson Road Intermediate School on Monday, June 6 to recognize an innovative breakfast program run in conjunction with Project Bread.
According to Janice King, Auburn Public Schools’ Food Services Director, the Auburn Schools have increased their volume from 3,000 meals served in 2013 to over 7,000 this year. A significant part of that increase comes from two initiatives, “Breakfast After the Bell” and “Breakfast to Go”.
Both programs are designed to “allow students to eat on their own terms, reducing common barriers to breakfast participation…” according to the Child Nutrition Outreach Program Central and W. Mass coordinator, Rosemarie Caward.
A typical grab-n-go breakfast consists of juice, fruit, and grains; “Items that don’t need to be refrigerated” said King. “Students can take a bag containing these healthy breakfast options, and eat them throughout the day. They won’t spoil.”
That breakfast is the most important meal of the day has become accepted conventional wisdom. Research has also shown that providing a broader selection of breakfast options in school improves student grades, reduces tardiness, and improves dietary quality.
“A lot of kids skip breakfast because they don’t have time to eat at home, or maybe there are no options at home” said King. “We’re striving to increase access to healthy breakfast for any student who wants it” she adds.
About 80% of the breakfast students are income eligible for free or reduced lunch, the other 20% just like having school breakfast, according to King. She added that 30% of Auburn Public School students are eligible for free or reduced school meals.
Project Bread is a non-profit organization that administers the Child Nutrition and Outreach Program (CNOP), a program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.