May 22, 2018
By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools
Beginning in August, Rutherford County Schools will offer a free “Breakfast in the Classroom” program for all students at LaVergne Primary School, LaVergne Lake Elementary School and Kittrell Elementary School.
Those schools were selected for a pilot program based on their number of students who qualify for the federally funded Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
“Because those schools have a high percentage of students who are eligible for free breakfast, we can offer the program for all students at no cost to the school district because of the federal reimbursement rate and grants received for pilot equipment,” said Eric Smith, interim director of School Nutrition for Rutherford County Schools.
As part of the program, food will be brought directly to each classroom and served to the students before the instructional day begins, Smith said. The intent of the program is to ensure students at those schools are prepared for a productive school day, which is difficult if they have not had a proper breakfast, he added.
“Some of the benefits of eating in the classroom are higher test scores, better attendance and less discipline issues,” Smith explained.
The school district held a kick-off last week at the test kitchen in the John Coleman School annex in Smyrna to announce the pilot program. Students and parents in attendance were invited to try some of the food that will be served — including fresh fruit, parfaits, waffles and juice.
The Dairy Alliance, the Tennessee Justice Center and the Tennessee Titans are program partners for the initiative, and each participated in the school district’s launch event.
The event featured a visit from Tennessee Titan’s kicker Ryan Succop, who helped serve food, posed for photos with students, gave out autographs and talked about the importance of nutrition and pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Succop is an ambassador this year for the Diary Alliance and also touted the Fuel up to Play 60 campaign, which encourages schools to make healthy changes in the students’ eating habits and physical activity.
“I’m here this evening at ‘Breakfast for Dinner’ to talk to the kids and parents about the importance of eating healthy, eating breakfast, getting the right nutrients and getting your dairy products,” said Succop. “It’s neat to see what FUTP60 is encouraging and the impact it can have on kids to live a healthy and happy life.”
Succop presented a check to the school district from The Dairy Alliance for $6,000, which will help pay for the program’s needed equipment, Smith said.