Students at Greenwood Elementary School will come back to school Aug. 14 from summer vacation geared up for year two of a program in the district that serves breakfast ‘on the go.’
The district’s ‘Grab-n-Go’ mobile breakfast program essentially offers students the opportunity to enter the school and head directly to their classroom after receiving breakfast on the go.
Sponsored by grants provided by the Midwest Dairy Council, the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative, ‘Grab-n-Go’ started at Greenwood last October.
The school still offers the traditional hot breakfast, as well as the opportunity for students to eat breakfast inside the school’s cafeteria, which was repainted with funds also provided by the grant.
“The way that it works here at our school is we have a breakfast cart right inside our front doors,” said Carrie Freeman, principal of Greenwood Elementary. “As the students come in, they can either choose to come downstairs for breakfast and have more of your traditional breakfast or they can grab a breakfast off of a cart and go directly to their classrooms.”
This school year the program will expand to seven elementary schools in September and by October all 18 of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s elementary schools will be involved.
A middle school, Bernard C. Campbell, will also participate in the program this year.
“I started writing the grants four years ago,” said Lori Danella, the district’s nutrition services coordinator. “It’s not something you can throw out real quick, but there was a need in our district.”
Danella added breakfast menu items vary, but the offerings are healthy, nutritious and within guidelines of the recently-revamped food pyramid. Since the program began at Greenwood, it has seen a 105 percent increase in daily breakfast participation.
“Our participation was really low and we knew that it was low,” she said. “Kids weren’t eating at home and they were going without. It’s just been a win-win.”
Added Freeman: “Not everyone eats breakfast, so the whole goal was to increase participation in breakfast because we know if kids eat breakfast and have a decent breakfast they are going to perform better academically. The novelty of being able to eat in your classroom was pretty cool. We increased our participation by quite a bit in our breakfast program because of that.”
Bridget Sheehan, a registered dietitian with the Midwest Dairy Council, said a recent report stated that breakfast eaters have better attention and memory than breakfast skippers. The information is not new, just reaffirmation of the importance of student’s starting the day off with a meal, Sheehan said.
“Kids were having a difficult time in having enough time to eat breakfast in the morning,” she said of the genesis of the program. “Or at least get breakfast and make it to class without being tardy. The teachers noticed that kids weren’t eating breakfast, which of course we know is very important.
“They’ve done a very good job at Greenwood. They actually had data comparison of the year without the program and they had over a 105 percent increase in breakfast participation, which is really great for this type of program. It really just gives kids access to healthy meals, because we all know kids sometimes don’t want to eat breakfast.”