Highland pilots breakfast program | PostIndependent.com

Highland pilots breakfast program

Re-2 News
Theresa Hamilton
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Contributed PhotoHighland Elementary fourth-grader Alexus Palmer enjoys the breakfast in the classroom program, adding that "it helps our brains focus."

RIFLE, Colorado – Highland Elementary students start their day off with the most important meal of the day – breakfast.

Research indicates that children who eat a complete breakfast make fewer mistakes and work faster in math tests than those who eat a partial breakfast. They tend to show improved cognitive function, attention and memory.

According to a study conducted in the Boston Public School system, students in schools that provide breakfast in the classroom show decreases in tardiness and suspensions as well as improved student behavior and attentiveness.

Highland students say the research is right.

“They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” said fourth-grader Alexus Palmer. “It helps our brains focus.”

The program, funded through the Federal School Breakfast Program, began in January and allows students to eat breakfast in the classroom first thing in the morning.

Breakfast is available at no cost to all Highland Elementary students regardless of their family’s income. The breakfast in the classroom program is being piloted only at Highland Elementary.

Though all of the Garfield Re-2 schools serve breakfast students who qualify, the breakfast in the classroom program has tripled participation from around 80 kids to about 330 students a day, said Highland’s kitchen manager, Lisa Reichert.

Nutrition services coordinator Lori VanSlyke spent several months researching the program and putting the support structures in place to help it be successful.

The students and teachers give the program two thumbs up.

“It helps our brains get ready for work,” said fourth grader Kate Cardenas Lepe.

“It’s hard to make sure that you eat a good breakfast in the morning,” added Palmer. “We are lucky because we get delicious food for breakfast in class.”

Teachers say that they have seen a reduction in the number of early morning headaches, stomach-aches, and general tiredness.

Highland Principal Alan Dillon said that he is looking forward to evaluating the reading data in the coming weeks to see if the breakfast in the classroom program is making a difference in the academic performance of his students. However, he does see one major advantage to the program before seeing any data.

“Eating meals together is important in a culture and in a classroom. It makes it safe and comfortable for our students in the classroom. By offering the program to everyone in the school, it takes any stigma away from those students who really need the program and were separated from their peers before,” he said.

He praises VanSlyke and Reichert for making the program run very smoothly at Highland and supporting the students.

“I love it,” added Dillon. “I think it is good for kids and it is good for our building at no cost to the district.”

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