SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – For the past four months, every student at Central High School in Springfield has the option to start their day with a free nutritious breakfast in the classroom. This program is the first of its kind in Massachusetts.
On Friday, the USDA Foods and Nutrition Service toured Central High to see how the programming is working, in hopes that other schools will adopt similar programs.
“I thought this was terrific, a production like this, 110 classrooms, and you need to move food to those classrooms so that they can eat and then begin there academics is very impressive” said Audrey Rowe, an administrator with the USDA.
Each day, the students are presented with a menu, and they have to choose at least three of those items. Friday, there were options like granola bars, yogurt, and fresh fruit.
“Some of our students unfortunately didn’t get to eat until lunchtime, this kind of gives them the energy they need to get through the morning and through to lunch. You definitely see a difference in their demeanor and their performance academically and socially,” Principal Tad Tokarz said.
While some of the money to fund this program does come out of the school’s budget, a large portion is reimbursed by the USDA. For every free breakfast they serve, the school gets back more than $1.50.
Since the start of the program back in November, participation in the school has gone from 25 percent to 80 percent.