Altus Public Schools celebrated National School Breakfast Week this past week with cafeteria staff, teachers and administrators teaming up to relay the important message of eating healthy. Altus students had fun this week making healthy snacks, and teachers emphasized food nutrients in their curriculum.
OKC vendors deliver fresh produce twice a week to three schools for classroom snacks which helps expose kids to new fruits and vegetables. Food and nutrition events held this past week included Muffins for Moms, Dads & Donuts and a breakfast for the AHS Athletic Department.
A few years ago the USDA set up nutrition guidelines that caused challenges for some schools. Every school applied for approval, and made changes if needed. Approval is inspected and granted every year.
Cafeteria managers have very strict rules to follow that are set by the Oklahoma Department of Education. Foods must be whole grains, and approved and inspected with labels, from the United States Department of Agriculture.
One way to get kids involved and interested in healthy eating is by letting them help compose school menus by participating in vendor sample taste tests. Vendors mail complimentary meals and snacks to schools, and then cafeteria managers choose a number of students to sample and give feedback.
Sabina C. Garrett, the Child Nutrition Program Director for Altus Public Schools, encourages all student families to complete a free and reduced meal application to be assessed on income or SNAP eligibility. At pre-registration, the forms will be available in English and Spanish and assistance will be provided. The Federal USDA reimbursement rates, posted in the federal register, provide program support per meal count for breakfast, lunch and after school snack program meal service.
Research has shown that students who eat breakfast have better attention and memory, and is linked with academic success. Improved attendance, behavior test scores and decreases in tardiness and disciplinary actions have also been seen.
Altus cafeteria managers agreed that it was an exciting week for the kids, as well as a nutritional learning experience for everyone.
Reach Mary O. Esparza at 580-482-1277, ext.1277