Local schools observe National School Breakfast WeekBy Emily Beckett Published 4:22pm Thursday, March 6, 2014
Schools in Chilton County joined other schools across the country in recognizing March 3–7 as National School Breakfast Week.
With this year’s theme “Take Time for School Breakfast,” local educators and lunchroom staff members placed emphasis on the importance of students eating breakfast every morning before school starts, even on busy mornings.
“It’s mostly promotion and to encourage students to eat and to let people know that schools do serve healthy breakfast, and it’s affordable and helps kids do better in school by eating a good breakfast,” Child Nutrition Program Director Rachel Rachels said. “I feel like one of the best areas that we can grow through Child Nutrition is in the breakfast program.”
As of Thursday, 10,447 breakfasts had been served in local schools this week, Rachels said.
Broken down by school, the number of breakfasts served from March 3–6 are: Chilton County High School, 764; Clanton Elementary School, 1,443; Clanton Intermediate School, 1,004; Clanton Middle School, 815; Isabella High School, 715; Jemison Elementary School, 1,914; Jemison Intermediate School, 875; Jemison Middle School, 876; Maplesville High School, 561; Thorsby High School, 601; and Verbena High School, 879.
Rachels said the Chilton County School System averaged 2,415 breakfasts per day in February, meaning the total number of breakfasts served in a four-day period was less than the total number served during NSBW from March 3–6.
Rachels said schools were not required to add anything to their normal breakfast routines for NSBW, but some lunchroom employees got creative.
At Jemison Elementary, students who ate breakfast at school Monday morning were treated to green eggs and ham in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
The idea for serving green eggs and ham came from the book “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss.
Dianne Wilkins, CNP manager at JES, said she noticed an increase in students eating breakfast in the lunchroom this week.
On Thursday, 497 students—more than half of the JES student body—ate breakfast at school, Wilkins said.
“Our numbers were real high,” Wilkins said. “We gave out nutrition booklets and papers each morning that told about child nutrition and how they should eat. The children love it.”
Rachels said she hopes to implement grab-and-go breakfast food carts in schools for the 2014–2015 school year.
Also, she recently introduced local lunchroom managers to a new item called Wowbutter, which is essentially fake peanut butter.
“It allows children with peanut allergy to enjoy peanut butter because it’s not peanut butter, it’s soy butter,” Rachels said. “It tastes like peanut butter, but it’s not. It’s gluten-free.”
She introduced managers to strawberry Craisins, which are dried cranberries with strawberry flavor, as a new fruit option to serve during breakfast.
Rachels said she hopes incorporating these and other new items into schools’ breakfast menus will encourage more students to eat breakfast every day, and NSBW was a good opportunity to highlight new breakfast options and the health benefits that come with eating a balanced breakfast.
“It’s a good reminder that it’s something that is available to students,” Rachels said. “The academic benefits of eating breakfast are huge. Students that eat breakfast tend to feel better, to think and learn better. It helps jumpstart their metabolism.”