New England Dairy & Food Council: Grant will fund breakfast compost program
BRATTLEBORO — When a school lacks a cafeteria, where do students eat?
This was the concern Green Street School administrators had, since breakfast participation, when served in the gymnasium, resulted in only one-third of students eating the morning meal. Last September, breakfast was moved into the classroom, served after the morning bell, and provided free to all students. With these changes, breakfast participation has more than doubled. To help bolster the program's obvious success, Green Street School was recently awarded a $2,700 grant that was funded by New England Dairy & Food Council and the dairy farmers of Vermont.
"We know how important it is for students to start the day with a well-balanced meal, so we have committed to serving breakfast after the bell to make sure that as many students as possible have access to a healthy meal," said Principal Mark Speno.
But with a new program comes unexpected hurdles. "Our biggest challenge so far has been to manage the increased amount of waste that is now generated in the classrooms. The bins were too small to fit food scraps and packaging — in addition to waste already generated throughout the school day."
Head Custodian Eugene Frost created a prototype for how classrooms can more effectively manage the morning waste. The three-bin, color-coded system allows students to separate their breakfast leftovers as organic matter, recycled materials, and landfill waste. The mobile system makes it easy for custodial staff to collect and for teachers to store.
"This grant money will go towards implementing the three-bin system throughout our school, which will be instrumental towards improving classroom waste management," said Speno.
Local Dairy Farmer Robert Wheeler, of Wheeler Farm in Wilmington, and New England Dairy & Food Council's Jill Hussels were present to see the bins in action.
"The biggest improvements we consistently see in school breakfast participation is when the morning meal is offered in the classroom and free of cost," said Jill Hussels, RDN, Nutrition Specialist. "Normalizing school breakfast helps level the playing field for students, and leads to increased attentiveness, standardized test score results, and fewer trips to the school nurse."
Students, schools, and parents can learn more about funding eligibility in the "Funding" section at FuelUpToPlay60.com. Each funding cycle can provide up to $4,000 per school. For more information about Fuel Up to Play 60 in New England, follow New England Dairy & Food Council on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and visit NewEnglandDairyCouncil.org.
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