The North Bend Eagle


NBC doesn't fit statewide trend of breakfast eaters

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 2/22/17

A study showed that Nebraska ranks near the bottom of thecountry in students participating in school breakfast, but NBC doesn’t think it is part of the problem.

Nebraska Appleseed, “a nonprofit organization that fights for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans” released an article on the study with a headline of “Nebraska continues to rank near bottom of U.S. in school breakfast.” It followed with a statement that the state’s low participation in school breakfast means poorer outcomes for students and missed federal funding.

Appleseed looked at the School Breakfast Scorecard made by the Food Research and Action Center, FRAC, in Washington, D.C. It compared the number of schools and low-income children who participate in breakfast to those who participate in the National School Lunch Program. FRAC also sets a participation goal of reaching 70 children with breakfast for every 100 receiving lunch as a way to gauge state progress and the costs of under participation in the program.

According to the 2015-2016 School Breakfast Scorecard, Nebraska ranks 48th in the percentage of free or reduced-price lunch students who also eat school breakfast at 43 percent.

NBC food service manager Deb Kavan said participation in the local schools’ breakfast program is higher than average.

“The total percent of students eating breakfast in both elementary and high school eating lunch is 53 percent,” Kavan said. “Of those eating breakfast, 80 percent at the high school and 84 percent at the elementary school qualify for free or reduced lunches. This is high compared to the rest of the state.”

Kavan thought the schools with lower participation rates were ones who had a lot more students eating at the school and a lot more eligible or free and reduced lunches.

She said that 98 percent of the students participate in the lunch program at NBC, with the remaining bringing their own lunch.

“We kind of keep an eye on it,” Kavan said. “If we see students not eating, the school counselor, Chris Gaughen, will talk to them.”

There are also opportunities for students to eat for free by working in the cafeteria. Kavan said they employ 12 students over the three lunch shifts. The government pays for their food.

The kitchen at the high school sells a la carte items throughout the day such as fruit snacks, crackers, rice krispie bars and granola bars. There is also a concession stand open right after school for students needing some nutrition before practice.

“We offer athletes watching their weight fruit at lunch time so they can eat something healthy,” Kavan said.

When serving a meal the school kitchen has to offer all five food components (meat or meat alternate, grains, fruits, vegetables and milk). Students can decline up to two components, but all students must take at least three of the five food components, including half a cup of fruit or vegetables and full servings of the other selected food in order for this to be a reimbursable meal for federal funds.

Breakfast must include grains, fruits and milk with at least four available choices. Food servings vary with different grade groups.

Overall, Kavan thinks the program offered at NBC are pretty good and the students are well fed.

“They like us here,” Kavan said with a smile. “I think it’s a big city problem.”


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