Jefferson Local expands breakfast to upper grades

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 Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Sharyn Yoder, food services supervisor for Jefferson Local Schools, prepares for an expanded breakfast program for the 2007-08 school year.

Students in West Jefferson not only learn about the food pyramid, they can now put their knowledge to practical use twice a day as the school district prepares to expand breakfast to the high school and middle school.

The program began in February at Norwood Elementary and moves to the upper grades in the fall. Food Services Supervisor Sharyn Yoder said Norwood students will start the 2007-2008 school year with both breakfast and lunch. High/middle schoolers will be able to grab a quick bite to eat before class starting in October or November.

“When you have 20 percent or more of your students on free or reduced lunch, you have to offer breakfast and lunch,” Yoder said. “The district is at 21 percent. The program started at Norwood with cereal, milk and juice—something very simple to get everyone used to it. Then I sent one of our cooks over to the school when we started adding hot meals like pancakes.

“Walkers came in between 8 and 8:10 a.m. and picked up what they wanted. They were usually out of the cafeteria when the busers arrived. They were given 15 minutes for breakfast before school started at 8:30 a.m. The high school/middle school will be a little different, and we’ll probably start out the program with a grab-and-go breakfast, but we’ve yet to make a final decision.”

Yoder said high school students will be served breakfast in the cafeteria. The food service staff is considering using a cart to offer breakfast to middle schoolers in their section of the complex. The program is optional for all students. It includes milk, fruit juice, and items such as muffins, cereal, cheese sticks, bagels with cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit and Uncrustables.

The cost for breakfast at all grade levels is $1.25. Students eligible for a free lunch are also entitled to a free breakfast. Those on reduced lunch pay 30 cents.

“It’s very easy for families with students on free or reduced with our POS (point of sale) system, and all children have a PIN they can use to buy breakfast or lunch. They can also pay cash. It worked out really well at Norwood this year,” Yoder said. “Our highest morning (for breakfast) was 86, and we hope to get that number even higher.

“The breakfast, like lunch, is subsidized by the state and because of that, we have to offer more fruits and vegetables than ever before. We’re trying to offer fresh fruit every day. The lunch prices are staying the same as last year: $1.90 for kindergarten through second grade, $2 for grades three through five, and $2.25 for six through 12.”

Applications for free and reduced meals are sent home the first day of school and due back no later than Sept. 30. Yoder noted that students who enrolled in the program last year can still take advantage of free and reduced prices at the beginning of the new school year, but must re-apply by the end of September in order to remain in the program.

Out of a total population of approxi-mately 1,300 students, 16 food workers serve at least 1,000 individuals in the Jefferson Local Schools system. With the addition of breakfast at the middle and high school levels, Yoder said she may have to consider the possibility of adding extra hours in order to cover the extra work load.

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