Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Huron Valley Schools (HVS) newsletter. Free breakfast expanded in HVS as part of United Way’s partnership with Oakland Schools and Oakland County to bring our Better With Breakfast initiative to 3,500 students in the district.
Every student at three HVS schools — Highland Elementary, Oxbow Elementary and Harbor High School — now has access to free breakfast every day. The Oakland County is Better with Breakfast program began at HVS in early September. The public/non-profit initiative is a collaboration between Oakland County, Oakland Schools and United Way for Southeastern Michigan.
Sara Simmerman, HVS Foods and Nutrition Supervisor, applied for the grant last spring and was able to implement the program when the school year began. Meals include, for example, whole grain apple or blueberry muffins, fruit and juice or milk.
“These items are specially formulated for school meals, so they are lower in sugar and higher in protein and fiber,” Simmerman said. “They are made to be nutritious.”
The grant was available to schools where 40 percent of students or more are eligible for free and reduced lunch. At Harbor, because 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced meals, all students receive free breakfast and free lunch. As part of the grant, HVS also received new food service equipment, valued at $5,000 for each building, to run the program.
Highland Principal Patty Woodruff said the program has been “amazing.”
“Kids are getting to school on time,” she said. “They are getting in a routine of eating breakfast while doing morning work.”
“I know it will show in academic performance; hungry kids can’t learn,” Woodruff added, noting the school’s cafeteria staff has done a great job implementing the program.
Oxbow Principal Justine Greenleaf and Harbor Principal Ben Dowker agreed the program is off to a great start at those buildings, as well. “It is absolutely fantastic,” Dowker said.
“We are feeding kids — and not just some kids. All kids. I cannot say enough.”
“So many more kids are actually eating breakfast now,” added Greenleaf.
The two-year program will continue through the 2020-2021 school year.