Free breakfast for all

Norwin students choose free breakfast items from the federal program for free breakfast nationwide.

Norwin students choose free breakfast items from the federal program for free breakfast nationwide.

Harrison Melegari and Tyler Chakey

     Many high school students  just do not have time to eat breakfast at home. 

     Because school starts before the sun rises, most teenagers wake up really late and have to leave to go to school immediately. While the school provides breakfast, normally students would have to pay for it. Well, NOT  anymore.

     Ever since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March of 2020, students at schools were unable to get nutritious meals during the quarantine, so the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) gave schools meal reimbursements to help serve meals during the pandemic.

     “The food is free,” said Mr. Rod Stewart, director of food and nutrition services at Norwin School District, “So it makes it easier for families and it also ensures the students get a nutritious meal.”

      Norwin’s School District’s Food and Nutrition is offering the federally assisted School Breakfast Program in all district cafeterias. Students are provided with a nutritious breakfast in the morning.

All elementary and secondary students are eligible to participate in this program. Items included with breakfast include fruits, vegetables, milk, bread, etc.

      “Honestly my students wanted to [participate in free breakfast program] since they saw other  classes were getting delivered breakfast so we could do something like that in here,” said Mrs. Natalie Nevi, teacher at the high school.  

      Originally the program would only take place during quarantine and was designed so parents could pick up school meals for their children as they were remote learning. Recently, they extended the program to end in June 2022 and students could get free meals even if they were at school. Breakfast and lunch  normally cost $1.85 for an entree and more if you had extras. However, the  free breakfast led to very positive effects for the Norwin cafeteria as sales for breakfast and lunch items have increased. 

     “In years past, students might not have purchased meals due to some reason,” said Stewart.  “But I think this is allowing kids to try things they have never tried before.”

     Overall, the school breakfast program has had a very positive effect on kids. More kids are able to eat breakfast in the morning.

     “I think breakfast is a really important meal so having it accessible to everyone is important,” Nevi said.

Norwin students eat breakfast in the cafeteria from 7:00 am until 7:20 when 1st period begins.

     Not all children eat breakfast and those who do have improved moods and increased alertness throughout the morning. On average, students that participate in the school breakfast program eat a breakfast of higher nutritional quality than students who eat breakfast elsewhere.

     ”I would encourage other teachers to start doing this for their students,” said Nevi.

     The increased sales lead to the cafeteria having a higher budget to use on staff members pay and higher quality food.

     ”It’s easier to run a budget, run a department with more revenue,” said Stewart. “We have more money to hire paid employees, to pay for overtime, and pay for higher quality food. It just allows the department to operate more freely.”

     However, the pandemic has been affecting the cafeteria, as with most businesses, regardless. The cafeteria mostly struggles with hiring new staff members.

     ”Staffing levels are not adequate,” said Stewart, “but that’s not only here that’s anywhere you go, we need teachers, we need cafeteria workers, we need janitors. McDonald’s needs employees, Kohl’s needs employees, E.W Tire needs mechanics, every industry is hurting right now.”

     Other than the free breakfast, the cafeteria is always looking for suggestions to make it better. These suggestions  include any made by students.

     ”We are always looking for new changes,” said Stewart. “The sandwich bar came from a student suggestion, years and years ago. Any student feedback is appreciated.”