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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Mornings at Pollard Middle School are unlike any other middle school’s. Before first period even begins, the students are practically skipping to homeroom, animatedly chatting with friends and classmates. Instead of resting their heads on the desk and pretending they’re still home in bed, the kids are asking their teachers what the day has in store for them and are involved in class discussions.
It might seem like an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” but in reality, it’s one of the many benefits of Pollard’s new breakfast cart, available to all students before homeroom.
The grab-and-go program, which began earlier in October, thanks to the Fuel Up to Play 60 grant awarded by the New England Dairy and Food Council (NEDFC), serves nearly one hundred students on any given day.
“What we’ve seen is that a lot of our kids were coming in [to school] not eating and then very, very hungry and asking teachers for food and snacks,” said Tamatha Bibbo, Principal of Pollard Middle School. “We’ve seen that reduced and have seen fewer students going to the nurse and saying they were feeling lethargic.”
Pollard’s physical education teacher, Paula Kelly, has also noticed a dramatic improvement since implementing the breakfast program. “I find that when my kids come into advisory, which is the first period in the morning, quite a few kids have a breakfast and they’re all very talkative and eating it. It’s a lot more social.
“Some of these have to get up so early and leave so early, and a lot of times, their parents have already gone to work and they’re fending for themselves. I definitely notice they’re more awake and alert for their morning classes,” continued Kelly.
To celebrate the successful beginning of their breakfast program, Pollard Middle School invited the NEDFC, along with Patriots mascot Pat Patriot, to the school’s lunch periods. With hot chocolate milk and an assortment of toppings for it being served at lunch by visiting dairy farmer Jimmy Hunt and members of the NEDFC, the students got an extra boost of energy from the milk’s vitamins and nutrients - not to mention from the excitement of hanging out with Pat Patriot.
“There’s been a lot of research about how when children start the day with breakfast, their performance is better, and their focus is better throughout the day,” said Michael DeAngelis, vice president of integrated communications and a registered dietitian for the New England Dairy Promotion Board. “It’s such an important thing that the school is doing, to be able to give breakfast at the beginning of the day to kids who, say, ran out of the house too quickly or possibly even don’t have access to food.”
With research proving that school breakfast programs get kids to school on time, reduce behavioral problems in the classroom, and improve the overall mood of the student body, Pollard Middle School will surely be advocating for their grab-and-go throughout the school year and going forward.