Number of breakfasts served at Pearl River Central Elementary School on the rise

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 30, 2019

Pearl River Central Elementary School served a record breaking 807 free breakfasts to students Thursday, said Food Service Director Sheila Amacker.

The cafeteria broke its record for highest number of breakfasts served twice this week, first with 791 served on Wednesday and again on Thursday by serving 807 morning meals, said Kitchen Manager Myra Smith. That means the school is feeding over half of the 1,500 enrolled students at breakfast, said Amacker.

The number of breakfasts the elementary school serves has significantly increased since the school began participating in the community eligibility provision program, which allows the school to provide free meals to all enrolled children. Qualifying for the program is based on household data from the students in the school. The District’s middle and high school do not meet the criteria for the program, but still offer free and reduced lunches to children in individual households that qualify, Amacker said.

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The school was serving approximately 450 breakfasts a day prior to the CEP program, but that number jumped to 600 breakfasts a day after the school began participating in the program, Amacker said. In the last two years, the school has served approximately 700 breakfasts daily.

Amacker said the increase is important because it means that the school is able to provide more children with nourishment before the start of their day.

“It they don’t start out with a good breakfast, it hinders them for the rest of the day,” said Smith.

Head cook Alfreda Deflanders said providing the students with free breakfast means a lot to them.

There have been some challenges with the increase in meals served, said Amacker, so the school has adjusted cafeteria staff schedules to allow them to come in a little earlier.

Along with a hot breakfast, the school also offers grab and go breakfasts in two locations—the cafeteria and a hallway where students are dropped off, Amacker said. The grab and go breakfast allows students who arrive to campus later than others a chance to still get breakfast so they can eat in the hallway or the classroom, Amacker said. Over 200 grab and go breakfasts are served in the mornings.

“We’re passionate about providing those services, so every time we see those students flooding into the cafeteria, that brings us joy,” Amacker said.