free breakfast program

By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools

LaVergne Lake Elementary Principal Paige Johnson has noticed a change in her students this school year.

Students have been more focused, on-task and have had fewer discipline issues.

free breakfast programThe change factor is a new schoolwide breakfast program that provides morning food for all students, Johnson said.

“Students are more alert because they are not hungry first thing in the morning,” she explained. “Our discipline numbers are down from last year and students are sustaining throughout the day because they are not starting out hungry.”

LaVergne Lake is one of three Rutherford schools piloting the “Breakfast in the Classroom” program this year, thanks to funding from industry partners and grants. The other schools are LaVergne Primary School and Kittrell Elementary.

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.

Amazon is one of the industry partners supporting the program and provided funds to purchase the food carts used to deliver food to classrooms each morning.

Company employees visited the school today to celebrate the program and play games with students.

Company representatives and students competed in a trivia game — similar to the popular game show “Are You Smarter than a Fifth-grader?” — and the students came out on top.

Many of the trivia questions dealt with food and healthy eating habits.

The event was intended to show kids they can have fun and be healthy at the same time.

“The goal is to make you successful in school,” Amazon Fulfillment Director Mark Marzano told students. “That’s why we’re here today.”

The other schools in the pilot program are experiencing similar success, said Eric Smith, school nutrition director for RCS. In addition, teachers are highly supportive of the program, even while it means more work for them during the beginning of the day.

“They understand it’s a little more work, but the benefit is worth it,” Smith said.

Principal Johnson agreed.

“They are 100 percent on board because they know it helps kids,” Johnson explained.

Other supporters of the program are the Tennessee Titans and Dairy Alliance, both of which donated funds to support the breakfast program in the three Rutherford County schools.

PHOTOS / JAMES EVANS

Students at LaVergne Lake Elementary School and workers from Amazon played games together and celebrated the school’s Breakfast in the Classroom program. Amazon is one of the industry partners who helps fund the program, which provides free breakfast for all students at the school. 

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