No charge breakfast coming to AES

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 22, 2014

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and Andalusia City Schools is capitalizing on the need for students to eat that meal by launching a universal breakfast program.

Students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade will soon have breakfast delivered to their classroom each morning at no charge to them, ACS Child Nutrition Director Stephanie Dillard said Friday.

The program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will begin April 1.

Dillard said the pre-packaged meals will come directly to the classroom in insulated coolers, and students will eat together from 7:45 a.m. until 8 a.m.

Students will be fed menu items such as pancakes, sausage biscuits, apple muffins, cinnamon rolls, pop tarts, chicken biscuits, breakfast burritos, fruit and milk.

In addition to addressing hunger needs, providing breakfast has proven to help the overall academic lives of students.

“This program has proven to increase attendance, decrease tardiness, decrease discipline, enhance academic performance and test scores,” she said. “Some kids don’t have the opportunity to eat breakfast.”

Studies show that while many children eat breakfast at home, others do not have the opportunity.

Parents may leave for work before children get out of bed. Early bus schedules may result in lack of time for breakfast at home or the need for additional food to get through the morning. Additionally, some children may not be hungry when they first wake up, but are hungry by the time they get to school.

Dillard said breakfast has always been offered at Andalusia Elementary School, but not all students participate.

“Kids are more apt to eat with other kids,” she said. “This is not just for free and reduced children.”

Dillard said the program should cut down on the stigma often associated with children who eat breakfast at school in the mornings.

Dillard said Superintendent Ted Watson approached her about implementing the program.

“I was made aware of this program last summer at a superintendent’s conference,” Watson said. “I thought it was a perfect fit for our students. We all know the correlation between eating breakfast and academic success, and it is not going to cost us anything. So, I felt like it would be a good service to our students and our parents.”