PORT CLINTON - The Port Clinton school district hopes the way to better learning is through its students' stomachs.
Thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Education, children at all of the district's schools will be offered a nutritious breakfast each morning before classes begin.
The $87,518 award from the state department's Office of Child Nutrition Services will pay for refrigeration equipment and other costs of providing the meals at five sites, said Jan Gluth, director of staff, student, and community development for the district.
“It's something we feel has been needed,” Ms. Gluth said. “It provides an opportunity for children to have breakfast at school. ... Any parent knows how busy mornings can be, so it provides another option for parents as well.”
Donna Kagy, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education, said Port Clinton was one of eight school districts to split $500,000 in state funds for the breakfast program this school year. Districts that receive the grants agree to maintain the breakfast programs for at least three years.
“What we're trying to do is encourage breakfast programs, because children who eat breakfast learn better,” Ms. Kagy said. “Studies have shown that.”
In Port Clinton, the meals are already being offered for students at Bataan, Jefferson, Catawba, and Portage elementary schools, plus Port Clinton Middle School. Breakfast service was to start today at Port Clinton High School.
For $1.20, students will get cereal, milk, and either juice or fruit, Ms. Gluth said. Other periodic offerings will include yogurt, granola bars, and muffins.
“It all fits within the dietary requirements,” she said.
Federal guidelines call for school breakfasts to provide one-quarter of the recommended daily allowance for protein, calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, and calories.
Besides the regular priced breakfast, the meals also will be available for free, or at a reduced price of 30 cents, for students from lower-income families.
For example, a child from a family of four with a yearly household income of $33,485 or less would qualify for the reduced price, according to district information. An income of $23,530 would qualify the same student for free meals.
Almost every school district in Ohio provides federally funded lunches, but less than half offer breakfast. Area districts that serve breakfast include the Toledo Public Schools and Benton-Carroll-Salem schools.
Ms. Gluth said students, who already arrive by bus at school more than a half-hour before classes begin, seem to like the opportunity to eat before learning.
“It really is a nice program, and it gives the students an opportunity to socialize a bit before school,” Ms. Gluth said. “So they all seem to be enjoying it.”