Option increases number of Coon Rapids students eating breakfast

With the support of a grant from Fuel Up to Play 60 this spring, Coon Rapids Middle School (CRMS) was able to provide students a Breakfast to Go (B2G) option and the number of students eating breakfast at the school has increased from 7 to 20 percent.

Tyler Leeper, a seventh-grade English language arts teacher, picks up a Breakfast To Go (B2G) from Jim Strand, child nutrition supervisor, during a promotional event at Coon Rapids Middle School.

Tyler Leeper, a seventh-grade English language arts teacher, picks up a Breakfast To Go (B2G) from Jim Strand, child nutrition supervisor, during a promotional event at Coon Rapids Middle School.

Founded by the National Dairy Council and National Football League, Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages students to eat healthy and be active.

Dr. Patti MacGillivray, CRMS school nurse, said prior to B2G only about 7 percent of CRMS students were eating breakfast.

Under the former breakfast system, students went to the school cafeteria in the basement of the school where the food is eaten.

“We see students in the health office every morning who come to school hungry and tired,” MacGillivray said.

“We saw that only 7 percent of students were eating breakfast and we knew we could do better than that.”

As a nursing leader, MacGillivray stepped up to lead the effort for the Fuel Up to Play 60 grant.

Under B2G, which began in April, students can grab items such as fruit, yogurt and cereal from a display in the school’s lobby and take the food into their first hour class to eat.

Moving the food to the lobby puts it in front of students as they come off the bus and allowing students to take food into the classroom gives them more time to eat.

“Breakfast is brainpower,” MacGillivray said. “Research shows that there are improved math and reading scores, fewer visits to the health office and better attention in the morning with students who eat breakfast.”

The goal was to start B2G this year and build on it next year.

Signs, videos and “Brittany Breakfast,” played by CRMS staff person Rachel Jorgensen, have helped promote the program.

June 1, teachers received a free B2G to eat in class with their students to be role models for the students.

In addition to B2G, CRMS received funding from Fuel Up to Play 60 for an after-school fitness program for girls.

While physical education is mandatory for sixth-grade students, it is an elective in seventh- and eighth-grades. The ratio of boys taking physical education compared with girls is 10 to one.

Targeting girls who are inactive and those who might need a safe place to go after school, the program met once a week. Community instructors worked with the girls.

In addition to taking part in fitness activities, the girls were exposed to healthy eating habits.

This summer, MacGillivray will write a grant to grow B2G.

“Clearly B2G is being used and the kids are enjoying it,” MacGillivray said. “We haven’t had any glitches. That says we had the right program at the right time.”

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