The program makes it easier for kids squeezed for time to squeeze in breakfast. And it removes the stigma that if you eat breakfast in the school cafeteria, you must be poor. For about 20 minutes before homeroom, a "grab-and-go" food cart is parked near the principal's office. Students can grab a bagel, muffin, cold cereal and fresh fruit, throw them into a paper bag, and take them back to their desks. Teachers have supported the program, despite initial worries about trash in the classrooms.
School nutrition experts say grab-and-go breakfast is becoming a popular alternative to the cafeteria, though they did not have figures on how many schools around the country have similar programs. Mount Nittany has served breakfast this way since 2002.
For example, at Mount Nittany, which no longer serves breakfast in its cafeteria, a complete meal from the food service cart costs $1.50 for students who pay full price and 30 cents for low-income students, and is free for the poorest children.
Debit cards are used in place of cash.
The school did a six-week trial of the food cart program in spring 2002 with encouragement from researchers at nearby Penn State University, who wanted to study whether a "grab-and-go" program would help boost overall school breakfast consumption.
Out of more than 890 students enrolled at Mount Nittany at the time, only 4 percent, or about 35, ate breakfast before the program. One recent day, the share of kids eating breakfast was 13 percent.
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Become conclusion during the test run, participation by students paying full price showed the greatest increase, climbing from seven to 47 students a day, according to the Penn State study.
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