Schools, students seeing success with Second Chance Breakfast

December 13, 2019

MCC Middle School students get the Second Chance Breakfast.

Schools, students seeing success with Second Chance Breakfast

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

For the past three decades area schools have been serving breakfast to students. For many of those children, it is the only opportunity they get to start the day with food. But, schools have often faced the challenge of children not taking advantage of the program.

Mason County Central, Mason County Eastern and Ludington schools are now offering children Second Chance Breakfast.

Though the breakfast program, like the lunch program, is available for a low rate, and also available for free or at a reduced rate for those who qualify, Mason County Central Food Service Director Mary Ann Nielsen said the numbers were low in the middle school, grades six through eight.

Last February MCC middle school and high school started offering the program. It was also implemented at Mason County Eastern this month. Ludington Area School District has offered the program for about three years, according to LHS Principal Dan Mesyar.

Traditionally breakfast is served before the school day begins. Second Chance Breakfast is served immediately after the school day’s first class.

“We have over 300 students in the middle school and we would only get about 45 kids, on average, participate in breakfast each day,” Nielsen said. “Our free and reduced meal qualification is at 60%, which means we should see a higher rate of participation. Since we implemented Second Chance Breakfast, we now have over 125 kids a day eat breakfast here at the middle school.”

At MCC’s buildings, Second Chance Breakfast is set up in one of the hallways where kids line up and get their “grab and go” items. It follows the federal guidelines of providing a grain, fruit (or juice) and milk. The grain item is often a cereal bar or another cold item. However, hot items are sold if they are leftover from the pre-school breakfast. Those qualifying for free or reduced meals can only get one breakfast each day, so they must choose between the early breakfast or the second chance breakfast, or pay full price, which is $1.60.

MCE, which offers free breakfast and lunch to all its students, began its Second Chance Breakfast program on Dec. 2.

“It is going over really well,” said Dana Kessel, MCE director of food service. “Often times we have busses that come in late, or students being dropped off right before the bell so those students don’t typically come down for breakfast before school starts. We are averaging around 50 students taking advantage of Second Chance Breakfast so far. Our offerings are warm muffins, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, cereal bars, fruit, 100% fruit juice, and milk.

“The kids are really excited about the program and staff has been very supportive,” Kessel said. “We are excited and still have room for growth with a goal to get as many kids as we can with a healthy breakfast to start their day.”

Second Chance Breakfast is also available at MCC high school. “We haven’t seen the increase in numbers in the high school like we have at the middle school,” Nielsen said. “ think the socialization of the kids is different, though. Middle schoolers want to play with their friends before school and not sit in the cafeteria. High schoolers tend to sit down with their friends, which is why there are more high schoolers who eat the early breakfast.”

The program is not offered at the elementary schools.

“The structure of the classes is different in the elementary,” Nielsen said. “The students stay in their classrooms and don’t switch out classes like they do in the middle school and high school. Plus, we have high participation of breakfast in the elementary schools already.”

Assistance for the program was provided by a grant through the Michigan Department of Education, which helped the school purchase carts.

Ludington High School Principal Dan Mesyar said the district has had Second Chance Breakfast for three years. Each year the participation has grown.

“It has really taken off this year,” Mesyar said. “Lot of students take advantage of it.”

MCC High School Principal Jeff Tuka said the administration at MCC was fully supportive of the program when Nielsen proposed it.

“Some students just aren’t ready to eat first thing in the morning, for various reasons,” Tuka said. “If we can provide a service that offers another opportunity for them to eat which helps them be focused on learning, then we are certainly supportive of it. This has been a great option for our students.”

MCC Middle School Principal Rob Dennis agreed with his counterparts.

The second chance breakfast program has proven its self worth many times over,” Dennis said. “It gives our students a chance to fill a need by making sure their stomachs are full thus allowing their minds to focus on the task at hand. The amount of studies that support this need for a nutritional boost, lends support to our food service program to provide this excellent service to our student body. Without it our student body would miss the nutrient boost that allows us to better focus on the whole child.”

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

Eats & Drinks

Eats & Drinks