IRON RIVER—It will be breakfast for everyone at the West Iron County schools this fall.
And milk mustaches, too!
Superintendent Chris Thomson passed along the news during the School Board meeting held on June 17: All West Iron students, regardless of family income, will be getting free breakfasts for the entire 2013-14 school year.
This affects all WIC students—elementary, middle school and high school. They will be encouraged to get breakfast at school instead of at home.
That means some changes, Thomson continued. Instead of students going to the cafeteria, “We will have to come up with something in which we are feeding in the classroom or ‘grab and go.’” Those details will be worked out before school starts in two months.
The funds come from Action for Healthy Kids, which is sponsored through Walmart and the Kellogg Foundation. Denise Maloney, the district’s wellness coordinator, was instrumental in getting West Iron involved in the statewide programs.
The district has received a $5,000 grant per building—a total of $15,000—in addition to the funds that West Iron is already reimbursed for breakfast. The grants could be extended for up to two more years.
West Iron, Maloney said, is the only Michigan district to receive full funding from Action for Healthy Kids.
Thomson said Michigan is a focus because the state ranked last in the nation because of eligible families not taking part in free breakfast programs. “They are looking at getting these kids eating during the day.
“The nice thing about this,” said Thomson, “is that we are going to be able to count every student at West Iron County for reimbursement from the state—every day.”
What kind of breakfast? That is to be decided. “I’m a big advocate that we have cereal and toast,” said the superintendent, “and get away from the Teddygrams and danishes.” With reimbursement, the district could look at fresh fruit
Thomson said he feels the district can do this with its existing staff, since it won’t take place in the cafeteria. “We should be able to alter out delivery. We may have to alter our school day a little bit.
“We’re happy to get it. It’s going to take a little coordination over the summer to figure out what we’re doing.”
Breakfasts will not be served before the school day starts, he noted. Given a choice between eating breakfast and playing outside, Thomson said, most students would rather play outside. “Then about 10 o’clock, they’re hungry.”
If the breakfasts take place in a classroom, teachers will be able to watch and make sure the kids really are eating.
Thomson had more good news.
“Our relationship with the Michigan Dairy Council is again reaping dividends,” he told the board. “They are networking us into other opportunities for our students.”
West Iron, he said, will be one of 15 schools in Michigan chosen to get free chocolate milk during this fall’s football season. Wykon players will get chocolate milk after practices and games: The Dairy Council is promoting milk as “Nature’s sport drink” because of its “perfect carb-to-protein ratio,” making it the drink of choice for recovery after exercise.
West Iron applied for the program and was selected. “We will get $2,000 to cover all chocolate milk needs plus two coolers, and Mr. Berutti [head Coach Mike Berutti] will have to wear a chocolate milk mustache for the Michigan Dairy Council.”
In fact, both the Wykons’ coach and players will be professionally photographed with chocolate milk mustaches. The photos will be used in a glossy Dairy Council poster.
In recent years, West Iron has also received grants from the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program ($4,950), Action for Healthy Kids ($2,000) and the Glacial Gardeners Society from Florence ($200).