Central earns breakfast award

Central High School increased its breakfast participation rate by 5 percent year-over-year in the first five months of this school year — a boost that helped the school earn second place in this year’s Colorado School Breakfast Challenge.

Twenty-four high schools from around the state competed in the challenge, hosted by the Colorado No Kid Hungry campaign. A first- and second-place winner were chosen in each of three categories: schools that serve breakfast in a traditional cafeteria setting before school, schools that serve breakfast in an innovative way and schools that serve breakfast in an innovative way and have a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. Central competed in the second category.

An average of 200 students eat breakfast at Central each morning, according to District 51 Nutrition Services Director Dan Sharp. That’s only 12 percent of the school’s population. But Sharp said that’s a higher participation rate than Grand Junction or Fruita Monument high schools.

“Twelve percent sounds low, but at the high school level (breakfast is) not as normal a meal period as it is at other age levels,” Sharp said.

Palisade High School has served an extended breakfast throughout the morning for years and nearly a quarter of that school’s students eat school breakfast, but Palisade did not apply to compete in the challenge.

Central’s “innovation” in breakfast service was adding a breakfast kiosk four years ago. Students can eat breakfast between 7 and 7:30 a.m. in the cafeteria or grab food to-go between 8:57 and 9:07 a.m. between the first and second class of the day from either the cafeteria or the food kiosk, located near the entrance to the school.

Sharp said about 75 students eat breakfast before 7:30, while another 125 get something to eat during the 10-minute breakfast period. Although the system is not new, Sharp said he believes breakfast participation grew this year because of advertising and encouragement from school staff.

“Administration and the (school) team are trying to push kids more toward the second breakfast now,” he said.

Central will receive a $2,000 prize for winning second place in the breakfast challenge. The first-place winner in the same category, Pueblo County High School, will receive $4,000.


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