Partners in Food Service
What your mother told you growing up is true: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Research shows that kids and teens who eat breakfast have more energy, do better in school and eat healthier in general. They also make fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Sandie Levine and Deb Schultz have witnessed firsthand the impact a nutritious breakfast can have on hungry kids. They’ve been cooking, preparing and serving food at South Saint Paul Secondary School for more than 10 years. And the past few months, they’ve played a major role in implementing a Second Chance Breakfast program at the school.
Second Chance Breakfast is a program that allows students who are normally not hungry first thing in the morning to eat just a little bit later. This program works especially well for secondary students who don’t make time to eat in the morning. Students pick up conveniently packaged nutritious breakfasts from mobile service carts in high traffic areas that are convenient to students, such as hallways or cafeterias. The grab-and-go breakfast is available for all students, not just those who qualify for low- or no-cost meals, which removes the stigma attached to having breakfast at school.
“I have to eat a nutritious breakfast every day to feel good,” Sandie Levine, assistant cook at SSPS said. “It helps me concentrate and feel better. It’s the same for kids — but they don’t always eat because they don’t want to stand out as the kids whose parents can’t afford to pay for food. Making these meals available to all kids takes away that stigma.”
Levine said her favorite part of serving Second Chance Breakfast is seeing the look of excitement on students’ faces in the morning. “Some kids are surprised that the breakfast is available, but they’re so happy to have it,” she said. “And the lines just keep getting longer. It’s really great to see.”
Deb Schultz has worked as head cashier at SSPS, where all four of her children went to school, for nearly 23 years. “I originally took the job to keep an eye on my kids,” she admitted. “I loved it so much, I decided to stay. I know there are kids here who really need this free breakfast and I want to do all I can to help them.”
Both Schultz and Levine said they’ve seen a significant improvement in the demeanor of students since the Second Chance Breakfast program was implemented and have heard nothing but positive feedback.
“We’ve had teachers come up to us and thank us profusely because of the improvement they’ve seen in the energy and attitude of their students,” Schultz said. “It really makes me feel good.”
South Saint Paul Secondary School is one of the first participating high schools in Food + You, a multi-dimensional program offering schools direct food distributions, support for accessing existing federal nutrition programs and connections to broader community resources.
Learn more about Food + You and how Second Harvest Heartland is helping create more access to food for teens and their families.