for the Cottonwood School District Food Services Program
1. Why did our school district start the breakfast program?
The Breakfast Program started at the elementary school in 2000 in response to a need to help students who were coming to school feeling ill because they were hungry. It was welcomed and expanded to the Middle and High school buildings in 2003.
The purpose of the National School Lunch/Breakfast program is to provide healthy meals for all school children. In our school district breakfast is free to all students’ kindergarten through 12th grade.
The Idaho State Department of Education Child Nutrition Program encourages all school districts in the state of Idaho to implement a breakfast program. Research shows that students who eat breakfast have increased test scores and better grades, decreased tardiness and behavior problems, improved attendance and have increased attention spans.
2. How are the lunch & breakfast programs funded?
Many people do not realize that the school district does not fund the School Lunch/Breakfast Program. The District provides the facilities, but the Food Service Program is self sufficient with revenue for expenses for the Lunch Program coming from the full-pay students and the Federal Government that provides commodity food items and reimburses the program for each free and reduced meal that is served.
Breakfast is free to all our students because more than 53% of the students who are on the free/reduced program eat lunch at our schools and this qualifies our schools for the Provision II Breakfast reimbursement from the Federal Government. Fifty-three percent of the total reimbursement that our school district receives from the Federal Government is generated through the lunch program, while 40 % is generated from the breakfast program.
3. Are children “forced” to eat breakfast?
No, students in our school district are not forced to eat breakfast. Breakfast is provided at each school building differently due to time and personnel restraints, lack of sufficient cafeteria space for all students to eat at the same time, and bus schedules. At the elementary school, breakfast is brought to each classroom before school starts. Many students choose to eat breakfast during this “recess” period before school. At the middle school breakfast is set out in the cafeteria and the students are allowed to eat while waiting for all the buses to come in before school starts. At the high school, breakfast is set out in the cafeteria and those students that want breakfast go to the cafeteria between first and second period to have breakfast. Breakfast is well received by the students and teachers alike. An average of 297 students, or 70% of our students K-12, eat breakfast in our school district every day.
4. Are bus schedules adjusted to accommodate the breakfast program?
The bus routes and scheduled times for student pick up is determined by the Transportation Director. Normally, buses arrive at both the elementary and middle schools between 7:55 and 8:15 am., but sometimes it’s later depending on road conditions, especially in the winter months. Breakfast is available at the middle school between 8:00 - 8:19 am., and at the elementary school between 8:00 – 8:23 am.
5. How many students eat breakfast per day or week?
Last year an average of 104 of the 135 students at the elementary school ate breakfast daily, 98 of the 136 students at the Middle school per day, and 95 of the 152 students at the High school ate breakfast daily.
6. How are menus generated?
Our school district uses the NutriKids Meal Planning program. NUTRIKIDS is a USDA-approved Menu Planning & Nutritional Analysis software program used primarily in the K-12 school setting. The program allows the user to plan and analyze their menus making sure that the meals planned meet the established USDA and state guidelines. Our head cook maintains a 5-week rotation menu. Each menu item has been entered into the program and all of the nutritional and caloric values are considered for the week that the item is displayed on the menu.
In addition, our school district is using even stricter guidelines, with one of the changes including additional fiber such as whole wheat baked items. The use of items high in trans-fats has been reduced and more fresh fruits and vegetables are being served. Another healthful change is that the students are given fruits and vegetables as seconds instead of the dessert or the higher caloric main item entrée.
As a footnote, our Food Service Program was recognized by the Idaho State Department of Education Child Nutrition Program at their yearly conference in 2005 as an outstanding program; and Mrs. Terhaar and Mrs. Rehder were presented with a certificate of excellence in School Meals Initiative for the State of Idaho. If you have any questions, please feel free to talk to the cooks at any of the three school buildings, Mrs. Lynn Rehder, the Food Service Director, or Mr. Gary Blaz, Superintendent.