On Wednesday, March 7th, CNOP’s Eastern Massachusetts Outreach Coordinator, Angela Brown, visited Medford High School to celebrate National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) and see their breakfast program in action. As part of NSBW, Medford High School created an “I Heart School Breakfast” campaign to promote the importance of school breakfast in their cafeteria and held a pancake breakfast for students.
Retta Smith, the school’s nutrition specialist, flipped and served hot pancakes to any student that wanted them. The cafeteria was crowded with kids waiting in line and eating their delicious pancake stack alongside fruit options.
Under Medford’s School Nutrition Director Juile Bradley, the cafeteria serves hot meals to its student body every morning, nearly half of which is eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Many of the students rely on school breakfast to satisfy their hunger in the mornings and support their learning throughout the day. Waiting in line, Wendy, a junior, said she loves school breakfast because it is “a good way to start the day and it helps you stay focused.” As Wendy and the other students in line were served their pancakes, Smith encouraged them to choose blueberry pancakes rather than plain ones. Both styles were made with whole-grains and offered a substantial amount of nutrients and fiber to ready the students for their day of learning.
When it was senior Tory Andre’s turn for pancakes, he immediately asked if the blueberries came from the school’s community garden. Students like Tony help tend to kale, apples, and berries which are featured in many of the school’s dishes, supplemented by other locally-grown produce. Tony has worked in the garden since he was a sophomore and has helped raise berries and leafy greens of all kinds. The students love seeing the fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables they grow end up on their plates.
As the students ate their breakfast, some socialized, and others took the time to do homework and collaborate on projects. Wendy sat down with her pancakes to work on math problems with her friend, who said that breakfast helps her do her work by keeping her awake and focused. When the first bell for classes rang, the cafeteria emptied out, and the students left for class with full stomachs and energized minds. Toni Vento, Supervisor of Health Services, was happy to see so many students taking the time for breakfast. “Breakfast fuels the brain for the day and keeps the students healthy and in a ready state to learn.”