Students learn to start the day right

May 15, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

The state's chief executive favors cereal with a banana sliced on top.

But any healthy breakfast will do, he told Manchester Elementary School students Friday.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer didn't tell them much that was new to them; the students were enthusiastic enough about the first meal of the day to have won a statewide contest. The competition, sponsored by the State Department of Education's nutrition unit, was for increasing participation in the breakfast program.

The number of students eating school breakfasts at Manchester Elementary increased 94 percent in six months. Statewide, 14 percent more students are eating breakfast at school.

"It's important you listen to your teachers and come to school each day fully prepared," Mr. Schaefer told the crowd of 730 students. He was served the same breakfast as the students Friday: muffins, fruit, juice and milk.

The students and teachers were also excited about the 6-foot-4, life-size Cal Ripken Jr. posters they will get next week as their prize. The posters of the Baltimore Orioles shortstop, a big milk drinker, are being supplied by the Middle Atlantic Milk Marketing Association.

The school also got a $500 grant to buy nutrition education materials and one free breakfast for the whole school next week.

While educators and nutritionists expound on how eating breakfast helps boost test scores and classroom performance, students have a much simpler way of explaining how they feel when they skip breakfast.

"Hungry," said third-grader Keenan Ports of Lineboro. "Like you can't think."

He eats breakfast at school almost every day, he said.

"I didn't have that much time to eat [at home], so my mom just gave me breakfast money and I would eat here," said Keenan, who has to meet his bus at 8 a.m. every day.

Breakfast at schools in Carroll County costs 75 cents. Students who get a discount because of family income pay 30 cents. Some students qualify for free breakfasts, as they do for free lunches.

Manchester cafeteria manager Rose Frebertshauser said the biggest jump in breakfast participation came when she alerted parents that the program is not just for children who qualify for free or reduced-cost meals sponsored by the federal government.

"I sent a flier home to let parents know," she said. "The very next day, I had six more children buy breakfast.

"It just kept increasing right away, without the program swinging into gear."

The program Ms. Frebertshauser spoke of was an all-out effort by her staff and the teachers to make students aware of the importance of nutrition, with breakfast as the most important meal of the day.

Between October and March, Ms. Frebertshauser and her staff served 3,565 school breakfasts over 98 days, compared with 1,879 over 100 days for the same months the previous year.

The average per day, she said, is about 50 students, up from 30 students before her flier went out in February.

Keenan said the school breakfasts taste good, too. He likes the sausage on a roll and the pancakes.

As for the governor, he sometimes varies from the cereal, with a scrambled egg substitute. "They taste better than regular eggs," Mr. Schaefer said.

And sometimes he'll splurge and eat something fancy, like the shrimp and mushroom omelet he had Thursday.

"But always a banana," he said.

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