Pictured: A Carbon School District student eats his breakfast at school during his first day of school a number of years ago when the district-wide free breakfast program was instated.
While losing weight and spending more time with family may be at the top of your list of New Year’s Resolutions, one that can help the students in your life socially, physically and academically may include a healthy breakfast to begin the day.
Luckily, Carbon School District is more than ready to help such a resolution become a reality.
After having nearly all schools in the district being labeled as “Severe Need Breakfast” schools, determined by the percentage of free or reduced-price lunches being served as well as the amount of reimbursement funds, the change was made to offer free breakfast to all students within the district nearly three years ago.
Since that time, the concept of school breakfast has grown and developed into what it is today, something much more than a meal.
“It’s a healthy breakfast,” said Carbon School District Child Nutrition Director Patti Rigby. “All the grains are whole grains. We have a required fruit component each day.”
Rigby also boasted of choices so that individual students’ tastes may be taken into account.
Guidelines for elementary schools state that breakfasts must contain either two grains or a grain and a protein per breakfast.
Such guidelines have thus been transformed to an option of cold cereals (functioning as the grain) and a yogurt or cheese stick, if a student prefers (fulfilling the protein requirement.) All meals are served with either a ¾ cup of fruit, which is offered as an all-you-can-eat option, or juice to satisfy a fruit component as well as a milk if wanted.
Other examples of breakfasts offered include oatmeal, breakfast sandwiches, pop tarts and others that all meet specific child nutrition guidelines.
“Our manufacturers manufacture to schools,” said Rigby, explaining how the various meals are much more health-conscious than one may think. “I don’t know you could go downtown and buy the foods I buy.”
For students, however, the chance at such a free meal may be more than mere sustenance, but a social gathering as well.
“We can be flexible for schools’ needs,” said Rigby. The district’s director mentioned several options to help schools as well as individual teachers give students the opportunity at a healthy start to the day.
Such options in the district have included offering a second chance breakfast to students in the classroom. While students are only allowed a single breakfast, they are given a second chance to eat if they were unable to at first or if they weren’t hungry.
Also, “grab and go” options, which feature healthy, easy-to-eat options, have been offered in the district as well.
“Within the guidelines, we’ll do whatever we can,” said Rigby.
There exists, however, another benefit to the district’s breakfast program, which includes reimbursement rates for those who opt to participate.
Over the last three years, reimbursement rates for free, severe need breakfasts, have increased over 10 cents and currently stand at $2.04. Such reimbursements are used to further assist in the school nutrition program.
While an unforeseen dip in participation in school breakfast took place in October of this year, Rigby remains hopeful that many in the community will take advantage of the program as the New Year begins.
“It’s not for people without money,” said Rigby, “It’s to help kids start their day socially with their friends and in a happy environment and have a healthy meal so they’re ready to start the day.”