Central competes in school breakfast challenge

Central High School is one of two dozen high schools in the state competing for prize money in the Colorado School Breakfast Challenge.

Three of the participating high schools will win a $4,000 prize for having the highest overall participation rate in school breakfast. Three varieties of schools will each win the $4,000: a school that offers free breakfast to all students and has innovative breakfast service like grab-and-go food carts, a school that offers innovative service but charges students for breakfast if they do not qualify for free meals, and a school that does not offer innovative serving options.

Schools that finish in second place in those categories will each receive $2,000.

Central is the only Western Slope school involved in this year’s challenge, which runs from September through January. The school is competing in the innovative service category for schools that charge for breakfast. Liza Hines, a Central High counselor and coordinator of the challenge, said school service innovations include allowing students to eat breakfast before class starts or grab breakfast after their first class and eat it on their way to second period.

Participation among Central’s 1,550 to 1,600 students has increased from an average of 138 students eating breakfast daily at school in September to 170 students in October and 185 students in November, according to Hines. She isn’t sure if posters about the challenge or a pep assembly that mentioned the challenge in September have increased breakfast participation, or if more low-income students are eating breakfast at school because resources are thin at home.

Challenge organizer No Kid Hungry, an initiative of Hunger Free Colorado, Share Our Strength and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office, invited 38 Colorado schools with high percentages of students on free or reduced-price meals to participate in this year’s challenge. Forty-six percent of Central students were enrolled in the free or reduced meal program as of last fall, according to the state Department of Education.

The other schools are located in Colorado Springs, Greeley, Pueblo, Longmont and the Denver metropolitan area. Winners will be crowned in March.


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