School breakfast business growsPublished 6:51pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Dowagiac lines up with state and national statistics that half the kids who are eligible for the federal free school lunch program also participate in free breakfast programs.
“We’re pretty darn close to half,” Jay Brackensick, Sodexo Food Service general manager, said Tuesday.
The figure comes from a new report by FRAC, the Food Research and Action Center, which says more than 612,000 children daily receive free or reduced-price meals in Michigan schools.
While school breakfast is available to anyone, getting low-income children proper nutrition is considered an essential element in helping them learn because they are better able to concentrate on the task at hand and, ultimately, lift test scores.
Brackensick agreed breakfast can also reduce behavioral problems and improve socialization.
While Dowagiac still bases breakfast in building cafeterias, urban districts are experimenting with other places for “grab and go” items.
“There are a lot of new, innovative things out there,” Brackensick said, recalling a meeting he attended where Kellogg’s was catering to large school systems, which he expects to “trickle down” eventually to smaller districts.
Brackensick said one innovation was a self-contained kiosk, which could roll to a particular location, such as where students disembark from buses.
Dowagiac serves breakfast 20 minutes to a half hour prior to the start of class.
Union High School and the middle school have cooking kitchens, so they can provide hot food every day, which elementaries receive once a week.
Brackensick described some of the fare served with juice and milk, such as Pop Tart-like whole grain pastries; “super buns,” a high-protein doughnut; whole grain or reduced sugar cereal; breakfast pizza with gravy instead of tomato sauce; English muffins, bagels or croissants with sausage and egg; and “breakfast on a stick,” a corndog-like creation made with pancake batter.
According to the School Breakfast Scorecard, Michigan schools could be eligible for an additional $27.5 million in federal funding if they could feed breakfast to another 112,000 pupils a year.
Brackensick said he promotes breakfast in building newsletters sent home with students and in State of the Union Schools districtwide newsletter.
Tags: Dowagiac Union Schools