Clear Spring school picked as the champion of breakfast
Apr 18, 2017
CLEAR SPRING, Md. — Clear Spring Elementary School is the winner of the Maryland Breakfast Challenge, which recognizes the school's efforts in providing a morning meal for every student.
During a special celebration at the school Tuesday morning, No Kid Hungry Maryland, a nonprofit group dedicated to ending childhood hunger and a partner with the American Dairy Association North East, presented officials with a $5,000 check.
It was in recognition of Clear Spring's new "grab & go" program, which provides students with a breakfast food that they can eat while in class.
"It's hard to learn when your belly is hungry," school Principal Shari Palm said. "Many of our students were coming to school hungry, yet didn't take advantage of our traditional breakfast program because they needed to get to class."
The program was initiated out of a concern for the students.
"Now, any student who wants to eat breakfast can just grab it and go to their classroom," Palm said. "It's fast and allows them to participate in morning activities while eating a nutritious breakfast. It's a true win-win."
Jeffrey Proulx, director of food and nutrition services for Washington County Public Schools, said that before the program was implemented, only 68 students would eat the school breakfast.
Today, 100 students are participating in the grab & go program, he said.
"That's 32 more of you," he said during the ceremony. "That is amazing. ... You make me very proud to be your food-service director," Proulx said.
With Poe, the mascot for the Baltimore Ravens football team, leading the way, students, teachers and administrators packed into the school's gymnasium for the special program to mark the win.
The hourlong celebration centered on the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast and the long-term ramifications for children who live with hunger.
"One in six kids in Maryland live in families that struggle with hunger," according to No Kid Hungry Maryland. "Research shows that this hunger has long-term ramifications on children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates, and a higher risk of hospitalizations and chronic diseases."
The celebration featured Brian Roy Schnebly, with Crown Stone Farm in Clear Spring, who discussed the importance of drinking milk.
"Milk is one of the most nutritious beverages you can drink," Schnebly said. "... Our mission is to help children understand the importance of eating nutritious foods. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gets you off to a great start."
The highlight of the event was a visit from Brad Jackson, a former Ravens linebacker. Jackson congratulated the students and talked about the importance of eating healthy foods.
"If you're hungry, you don't have the ability for your body to grow," he said.
In a news release, Jackson said a nutritious breakfast helps children be better students.
"To be a successful student, you have to fuel up on healthy foods and keep your body in shape with exercise to have the energy and mental ability to concentrate in the classroom and that starts with a nutritious breakfast," he said.
Jackson helped to lead several games with the students and was cheered when he picked up second-grader Stephanos Gladhill, who came to the celebration wearing a Washington Redskins jersey.
Stephanos' teacher, Andrew Ernst, joked that the second-grader actually alternates between wearing a Washington jersey and Ravens jersey.
"He just happens to have a Redskins jersey on today," Ernst said.