To honor National Pancake Day on March 7, Wingate Elementary School treated students to a pancake-themed breakfast.
Second-grade students Stephanie Cooper and Anna Peters, both 8, said their favorite item on the menu was “Piggy in a Blanket” — a corn dog-style treat with a pancake wrapped around a piece of sausage on a stick.
Promotional breakfast items were available not just for one day but the whole week as part of a celebration at the district for National School Breakfast Week.
District Food Service Director Laura Frye said Bald Eagle Area elementary schools had special items and activities for students. Building principals were even invited to be servers.
2017-18 preliminary state budget includes $2 million for public school breakfast programs
The celebration came about a month after Gov. Tom Wolf presented a 2017-18 preliminary state budget that includes plans to add $2 million into breakfast programs in schools throughout the commonwealth.
The proposal is supported by many food service representatives at districts serving Centre County.
“My hope for school breakfast programs would be for schools to expand opportunities for students to take advantage of school breakfast by offering breakfast at alternative times, such as ‘Second Chance Breakfast’ after first period, and creative service methods like grab (and) go and ‘Breakfast in the Classroom,’ ” said Frye, who also oversees the food service department at Bellefonte Area School District.
Breakfast is offered at all Bald Eagle and Bellefonte area school buildings, with service available within the first 30 minutes of student arrivals.
A breakfast cart is also available in the Bellefonte Area High School lobby to make breakfast food more accessible to students during arrival, Frye said.
Bald Eagle Area High School has a similar setup.
Schools see benefits from school breakfast programs that help support student learning — fewer morning trips to the nurse’s office, and fueling kid’s bodies to learn all through the morning hours without the distraction of hunger pains
Laura Frye, food service director for Bald Eagle and Bellefonte area school districts
“Schools see benefits from school breakfast programs that help support student learning — fewer morning trips to the nurse’s office, and fueling kid’s bodies to learn all through the morning hours without the distraction of hunger pains,” Frye said. “School breakfast programs support families by offering breakfast at school not just to those who qualify for free or reduced meals, but also as a service to busy families.”
According to a report from the state, Wolf wants to make the investment so “schools can reach more students and ensure they have access to the healthy meals they need to start their day right.”
His food security plan, “Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger-free PA,” was unveiled in September. Its goal is to provide school breakfasts to at least 60 percent of students on the free and reduced-price school meals program by 2020.
About half of students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals program get school breakfast
About half of qualified students participate, according to the report.
At State College Area School District, the number of students who get breakfast at schools is “much, much lower” than those who get lunch, Food Service Director Megan Schaper said.
“That is perfectly understandable and fine for most of our students, but only about a third of SCASD students who are eligible for free or reduced priced meals get breakfast at school,” she said. “That’s a big drop from the 85 percent who take advantage of the lunch program. I’d really like to see more of our free- and reduced-eligible students utilize the breakfast program at school.”
Schaper said 16 percent of State College Area students participate in the free and reduced-price meals programs.
Frye said breakfast follows requirements to offer 350 to 600 calories per breakfast depending on the age and/or grade level of the students.
Breakfast items at Bald Eagle and Bellefonte area schools generally include fruits; 100 percent fruit juices; whole grain items such as mini pancakes, bagels and breakfast sandwiches; yogurt; mozzarella cheese sticks; and milk.
Schaper said SCASD was testing breakfast programs in 1993 at a few elementary schools with the goal to open programs to all schools within two years.
Even though we are not a low-income school district, there are still lots of other children who benefit from the convenience of breakfast at school
Megan Schaper, food service director at State College Area School District
“We did it because students miss less school and perform better in school when they have eaten breakfast,” Schaper said. “Even though we are not a low-income school district, there are still lots of other children who benefit from the convenience of breakfast at school — those with two parents who work and everyone is rushing out the door and those who don’t want to get out of bed until the very last possible minute.”
Breakfast is now available in all State College Area schools at the start of the school day.
The reduced price is $.30 for all school districts.
Bald Eagle Area: $1.10; $1.70 for a second breakfast; $1.95 for adult breakfast
Bellefonte Area: $1
Keystone Central: Free
Penns Valley Area: $1.15
Philipsburg-Osceola Area: $.50
State College Area: $1.30 for elementary students; $1.80 for secondary students
Tyrone Area: $1.30