It’s 7:10 a.m. and the last of the toasted whole wheat bagels, topped with scrambled eggs, cheese and ham, are laid out next to bins of juice and milk cartons covered in ice.
Joel Hauswirth, director of food services for Summit School District, started a breakfast program at Summit High School this year, offering free breakfast for students already on free or reduced lunch, and $1 meals for other students.
There are bagels, muffins, cheese sticks and cereal — grains, proteins, fruit and more, all part of offering balanced choices.
“It’s an opportunity to educate students on what the components of a full meal are,” Hauswirth said.
This is the first year breakfast has been offered at the high school — plenty of students in elementary or middle schools in the district are offered breakfast, and Hauswirth said it was important to give students a kick start to their day.
Since starting breakfast, the high school has served between 30 and 60 students any given morning. Some students said it was easier than making food at home on their own, especially since the buses arrive early.
Julie McCluskie, district communications coordinator, said making breakfast an available option at the high school was a priority for the district.
“We were not required to make this happen,” she said. “But we want our students to be ready to learn, and hunger is a big distraction.”
A $15,000 Vail Echo grant helped expand the breakfast program, which subsidizes the cost for students and allows students who already have free or reduced lunch to have free breakfast.
“In a perfect world, free breakfast would be universal at schools,” McCluskie said.
Hauswirth said they have slowly been building awareness about the new program, trying to get more students to adjust their schedules to come in early and eat. Not having breakfast, he said, can really affect day-to-day learning.
“It affects attention span, performance,” he said. “It solves a problem some schools didn’t know they had.”
A healthy fruit smoothie has been one of the most popular featured items so far, and Hauswirth said he hopes more students come in as the year goes on.
“Meals can be a community gathering event,” he said. “This way the students can be ready to learn on a daily basis.”
“We were not required to make this happen. But we want our students to be ready to learn, and hunger is a big distraction.”
District communications coordinator