RACINE — The Southern Local School District recently won its second consecutive Champions of Breakfast Award sponsored by the American Dairy Association, Action for Healthy Kids, the Children’s Hunger Alliance, and the School Nutrition Association. The award is part of the School Breakfast Challenge which takes place in February of each year.
The Ohio School Breakfast Challenge mission is to increase access and participation in the school breakfast program, ensuring Ohio students start each day ready to learn.
Earlier in 2020, Southern had won the Children’s Hunger Alliance ‘Menu of Hope’ Breakfast Program of the year. The Champions of Breakfast Award generally holds its awards banquet in April of each year, but the COVID-19 Pandemic postponed that event to June. Again in June, plans for the in-person presentation were cancelled, so the award committee held a virtual presentation.
Southern’s award reads, “The Ohio School Breakfast Challenge (OSBC) sponsors are delighted to congratulate the Southern Local School District for receiving the 2020 Champion of School Breakfast Award. Southern Local is one of 16 school districts that earned this prestigious award state-wide out of the more than 1,000 participating schools.”
It further reads, “Your innovative and collaborative school breakfast practices have made a tremendous difference in the lives of your students. Thank you for your commitment to increasing access and participation in school breakfast and empowering students to make healthy choices. Congratulations on a job well done- YOU deserve the spotlight.”
District-wide 70 percent of Southern’s students eat school breakfast every day. Participation in 2019-20 increased six percent over the previous year. Southern earned praises for its innovative delivery methods. In Pre-K to second grade, Southern delivered “Breakfast in the Classroom” (BIC); grades 3-6 had grab-and-go from the cafeteria to the classroom; and 7-12 picked items from KIOSK carts for grab-and-go BIC.
“Our staff works hard to get out meals for our kids,” said head cook Becky Bradford. “This award gives us a lot of satisfaction knowing we are among the best in the state at what we do. We do it for the kids. It is also very humbling though for our small district to get this recognition.”
The kitchen staff consists of Bradford, Sheila Theiss, Jodi Cummins, Alice Williams, and Pam Humphrey.
Scott Wolfe, Food Service Director said, “I am proud of the program, I am proud of our school, and I am proud of our kitchen staff. However, it takes the teachers, principals, aides, custodians, and all certified and non-certified staff to make this work. Everyone does a great job and everyone should share in the honor.”
“We would like to improve on our high school participation for breakfast,” said Wolfe, who was quick to thank Superintendent Tony Deem for promoting school breakfast, and thanked the board of education who several years back supported “free breakfast for all” long before it became popular across the state.
Additionally, the school’s principals Tricia McNickle, Elementary, and Daniel Otto, High School, were crucial in setting up a schedule and following through with the dynamics of the program.
With the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and guidelines in place, Southern has had to expand its “Breakfast in the Classroom” to “Lunch in the Classroom”. Lunches as well as breakfast are now taken to all classrooms grades Preschool to 6th grade, while 7-12 Grab-and-Go to the classroom for breakfast, and in-shifts, social distance through a serving line where students take lunch to the classroom, or the gym, or the cafeteria where all students are spaced at least six feet apart for a safe eating environment.
Southern also prepares breakfast and lunch for five days in take-home bags that families pick up from 4-6 p.m. on Mondays for students that are remote learning in 2020-21. Pick-up is out back behind the school by the kitchen entrance.
Wolfe noted, “It is nice to get an award for something we do because we love our Southern kids. We are going to keep on doing what we do and try to make it better.”
We want to thank the sponsors of this award and all the organizations that help feed the children in Ohio.
Although another award would be nice, the Southern staff admits, “We are going to continue to feed our kids anyway we can.”
Wolfe gave thanks to Meigs Food Service director Chrissy Musser for running the summer food program that delivers food to Southern families during the summer months.
Other winners across the state were Hillsboro City Schools, Hamilton City Schools, East Cleveland City Schools, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Black River Schools, Campbell City Schools, Carrollton Exempted Village, Cincinnati Public Schools, Madison-Plains, Northwest Local, Paulding Exempted Village, Ripley-Union, Wellston City Schools, and Winton Woods City Schools.
Information provided by Southern Local School District.