Students fuel up

New program offers second chance for breakfast

Photo by Jenny Kirk As part of a new second chance breakfast called Fuel Up to Play 60, Marshall middle schoolers grab a quick sack breakfast between classes. Taher Inc. employee Tanisha Juarez quickly recorded the meals via computerized finger identification scanning.

MARSHALL — Starting this week, students attending Marshall Public School are getting a second chance at breakfast.

The new program is called Fuel Up to Play 60.

“We are offering a second chance breakfast to encourage students to start the day with a well-balanced breakfast,” Taher Inc. food service director Lori Fruin said. Taher provides the food service for the school district.

“The Midwest Dairy Council has teamed up with the Minnesota Super Bowl Legacy to provide us with this grant opportunity. We will offer a second chance breakfast to students at Marshall High School, Marshall Middle School and West Side Elementary. We will offer a chance to purchase a USDA National School Breakfast in between their mid-morning class. The breakfast will include all the components for a reimbursable breakfast.”

The grant the district was awarded — worth up to $10,000 — allows the purchase of equipment in order to expand the school breakfast service outside the cafeteria.

“They have a cart and they bring it right outside the classroom areas,” Marshall Middle School administrative assistant Abbie Boelter said. “They take it to the students so they don’t lose class time.”

Fruin noted that the second chance breakfast is for those students who did not participate during the regular breakfast time before school.

“We feel there are so many who do not have the time in the morning to eat a good breakfast or are not hungry right when they get to school,” she said. “All the students purchasing a breakfast will need to take all the components for a reimbursable meal. No ala carte or second breakfast is allowed. The cost of the breakfast is $1.40. Free and reduced students eat free.”

“It’s an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council and NFL, in collaboration with the USDA, to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives,” Fruin said. “We purchased equipment that says ‘Fuel Up to Play 60.’ It’s all geared to get everyone excited for Super Bowl 60 that will be hosted in Minnesota this year. It also promotes drinking cold milk with the dairy council. So to promote this, we would like everyone to wear Viking — or any other football shirts — to get everyone excited to eat breakfast.”

For the second straight week, Taher has been highlighting the importance of eating breakfast.

A partner with Marshall Public Schools for 30 years, Taher provides food service to students and staff in the district. Last week, Taher and Marshall Public Schools joined together with schools across the country to celebrate National School Breakfast Week.

“The theme was: ‘Take the School Breakfast Challenge,’ “ Fruin said. “We encouraged parents, students and school officials to start their morning with a healthy breakfast through our menu, and we have posters up in different languages around the school.”

According to the School Nutrition Association, 15 million — or 1 in 5 — children in America live in households without consistent access to adequate food.

Every Monday morning, school nutrition professionals observe this hunger on the faces of students eagerly waiting in line for a school breakfast after a long weekend without enough to eat.

Scientific research links school meals and healthy diets to academic success, and because of that, school nutrition professionals have worked to expand breakfast programs in addition to launching summer and after-school meal programs to help meet the nutritional needs of students.

“Good nutrition in the morning helps with concentration and performance in the classroom,” Fruin said. “Healthy schools can mean successful schools — and successful schools send successful students out into the community to participate, work and contribute.”

MPS Business Director Bruce Lamprecht was part of the advocacy team to start the second chance program.

“We’re really excited to provide a second chance for kids to have breakfast,” Lamprecht said. “Breakfast is such an important meal. There are kids who maybe aren’t getting breakfast at home or aren’t getting to school in time to have breakfast. So this is really a good deal for kids and families.”

Fruin and Lamprecht collaborated on the grant process, which included getting the OK from building administration.

“Lori and I got the principals on board,” Lamprecht said. “The principals and site leadership teams were supportive. There was strong consensus that this was worthy of giving it a try.”

The kickoff for the second chance breakfast program was supposed to take place on Monday, but a two-hour late start due to snowfall pushed it back a day.

“We had our first day on Tuesday,” Fruin said. “It went very well. We served 112 students a second chance breakfast. We feed them when they are going between classes, so we bring the breakfast to the class area.”

On Thursday, 187 students grabbed a brown paper sack breakfast and stood in line until Taher employee Tanisha Juarez was able to make sure their account was recording the transition appropriately.

“It’s all done by a picture of their finger,” Boelter said. “It charges their account. It’s really cool. It’s super fast. It’s proof that we have kids who need breakfast.”

Lamprecht also clarified the stipulations for the new program.

“It’s grab and go, so it’s not served in the cafeteria,” he said. “That was one of the stipulations, in complying with the grant.”

On Wednesday, a second chance breakfast at Marshall Middle School consisted of a breakfast loaf, string cheese, fruit juice, fresh fruit and milk. Thursday’s menu included a cheese sandwich with fruit juice, fresh fruit and milk, while Friday’s second chance meal was a breakfast cookie, fresh fruit, fruit juice and milk.

Second chance breakfast opportunities for West Side Elementary are scheduled to begin March 27, followed by Marshall High School in early April.

“We’ll have expended a little over $9,000 to get the program going at our sites, for serving and storage equipment,” Lamprecht said. “It’s a reimbursable meal. We feel it’ll pay for itself, so it won’t harm the food service program. It’s certainly going to be a big help for kids to have an opportunity to have breakfast so they can perform even better in the classroom.”