Breakfast for students at West Salem’s elementary and middle schools is about to change as the schools gear up to make the most important meal of the day more accessible to students who most need it.
Kerri Feyen, who is in charge of the district’s food service program, said only 4 percent of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price breakfast are taking advantage of it. The district’s goal is to double that number by offering elementary students breakfast in the classroom.
“The reports still show that breakfast is still the most important meal of the day,” Feyen said. “The studies they have done show that kids who eat breakfast in the morning miss less school, have fewer nurses visits and experience less fatigue.”
Serving breakfast in the classroom is far from a novel approach. Districts including Sparta, which have as many as 50 percent of students qualifying, have been doing breakfast in the classroom for years.
“I’d like to say were we’re on the forefront, but frankly were not,” she said. Feyen said this was partially due to the relatively small number of students that qualify for free or reduced-price breakfast.
The district won’t be offering breakfast in the classroom in the middle school, but students will get a second chance to get a full breakfast or a la carte options during a “nutrition break.”
Feyen explained that students between the ages of 10 and 14 physiologically tend to not be hungry in the morning.
She added students also would have the opportunity to pick something up during the nutrition break for after school.
Feyen said the number of middle school students taking advantage of school breakfast at a free or reduced cost is a little higher than at the elementary but still far below where they’d like to see it.
According to Feyen there are about 100 students in the middle school who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, but only about 10 percent were taking advantage.
“We’re not capturing those students who really need it,” Feyen said. “It’s a horrible number.
“Our hope is were double the number we currently have,” Feyen added. “Anything more would be icing on the cake.”
Breakfast at the high school will remain unchanged. The high school already serves breakfast during the first four periods of the day, giving students ample opportunity to get something to eat.
“The high school has a great set up where they can get breakfast all morning long,” Feyen said. “We don’t need to have the changes in the high school.”
“It’s something we’ve been thinking about for a while,” she said. “We do this because its the right thing to do.”