Thursday, September 25, 2014

CCPS named to Maryland School Breakfast Hall of Fame

Charles County Public Schools has been named to the Maryland School Breakfast Hall of Fame for achieving more than 70 percent breakfast participation systemwide during the 2013-14 school year. A total of 17 schools and centers were also recognized for high breakfast participation rates last school year. According to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Charles County Public Schools had the third highest breakfast participation rate of 71 percent across Maryland counties.

Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School topped the list in Charles County with a participation rate of 104 percent. Gale-Bailey Elementary School had the second highest participation rate, with 103 percent, followed by J.P. Ryon Elementary School with nearly 101 percent. Participation rates include reported meal totals for November 2013 and April 2014.

Additionally, the following schools and centers were named to the Maryland School Breakfast Hall of Fame:

·         Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School, 100 percent;

·         Mary B. Neal Elementary School, 99 percent;

·         F.B. Gwynn Educational Center, 98 percent;

·         Robert D. Stethem Educational Center, 97 percent;

·         J.C. Parks Elementary School, 94 percent;

·         Indian Head Elementary School, 94 percent;

·         Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School, 89 percent;

·         C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School, 86 percent;

·         Henry E. Lackey High School, 85 percent;

·         Eva Turner Elementary School, 84 percent;

·         Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, 83 percent;

·         Arthur Middleton Elementary School, 76 percent;

·         Piccowaxen Middle School, 74 percent; and

·         General Smallwood Middle School, 72 percent.

As an overall school system Hall of Fame inductee, Charles County Public Schools will receive a Governor’s citation and each school and center will receive a recognition certificate for their participation in the school breakfast program. A recognition ceremony will be held later this fall to honor schools and school systems for their Hall of Fame selection. Staff from Neal and Lackey was asked to represent CCPS at the ceremony.

The recognition program is part of the 2014 Maryland School Breakfast Initiative, which focuses on providing children with a healthy school breakfast. The initiative is a statewide effort launched through Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, with support from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, MSDE, the Maryland Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.

The initiative also includes the Maryland Breakfast Challenge, which seeks to expand the state’s school breakfast program to 10,000 additional students through challenge prizes and incentives and by emphasizing the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast, which can raise academic performance and reduce absenteeism. Principals can enroll their schools in the challenge – and interested parties can find more information about the program – at

The 2014 Maryland School Breakfast Challenge partners include the No Kid Hungry campaign, the Maryland State Department of Education, Action for Healthy Kids, Family League of Baltimore, Maryland Hunger Solutions, Maryland State Education Association and the Mid Atlantic Dairy Association.


Anonymous said...

from LegalBeaglette: Actually, I think this is sad. So much so that I picked up the phone and called a friend who has young children in the school system. She expressed frustration because she feeds her children breakfast at home…nourishing breakfasts, with a variety of protein, fruit, nuts, etc. Then they go off to school and are surrounded by children eating Cap’n Crunch, Lucky Charms, and other sweet cereals that are a rare treat in her home. It didn’t take long for her little ones to want to be like everyone else, and enjoy all that sweet stuff, too. Discourage as she might, the children don’t want to feel excluded, and (surprise?) like sweets!

No wonder there is such a high “participation” rate.

I pulled up the CCPS breakfast menu for September, 2014. While “unsweetened creal is available as alternate cereal at breakfast,” I have to bet it is the sweet cereal, available every day, the children go for. Pillsbury Ciniminis and Strawberry Pancakes? Mini Maple Waffles? I don’t know the “nutritional information” on those items, but they do sound like their appeal is the sweet factor, and they’re served with “assorted cold cereal.” These are characterized as “healthy school breakfasts?” Hmmm…I am reminded of the “beneficial” years-long (10? 11?) contract the former Superintendent had with Coca-Cola; that was SUCH a good idea, yes?

Also, I have a question about the serving of breakfast at the schools. The CCPS breakfast menu notes breakfast prices of $1.25 (elementary) and $1.40 (middle); are these breakfasts served free to all children in Title 1 schools, as was my impression from speaking with my friend?

Jennifer Abell said...

LegalBeaglette: I don't want to speak incorrectly about the Title 1 schools and the breakfasts served to the students so I am awaiting a definite response from staff. As for the content, I agree, there could be more nutritious options. I will bring this to the attention of appropriate staff. Thank you.

Jennifer Abell said...

LegalBeaglette: The cereals we serve are not the same cereal that you can purchase in the supermarket, even though they are marketed under the same or similar brand names. They must meet the USDA requirements (and MSDE requirements) to be served in the school meals programs. All of our cereals are whole grain, and low sugar. We serve grains, proteins and fruits daily. Fresh fruit is offered every morning with breakfast. We serve only low fat skim milk. We do not send any product that contain nuts to the classrooms. Peanut and tree nut allergies are a major concern, and we take extra steps to screen all of our product for nut ingredients.. Pillsbury Ciniminis, Strawberry Pancakes, Mini Maple Waffles and all of our grain offerings are made with whole wheat or are labeled whole grain.

Breakfast prices are $1.25 for elementary schools and $1.40 for secondary schools. Breakfast is free to all student in Maryland Meals For Achievement (MMFA) designated schools, and are funded by the state and federal government. Title 1 is not the criteria. The criteria is based on Free and Reduced enrollment above 40%, and schools are separately authorized by the state. CCPS currently has 15 schools eligible for this program but the state only has the resources to fund 13. Please note that a parent also has the option to send a breakfast meal from home with their child to school, which still allows their child to interact and participate in the morning in-class breakfast program. Most importantly, the program provides a calm, interactive, and social start to the school day which helps students achieve.

As for your reference to the Coca Cola contract, please remember that the purpose of that contract was to provide revenue to eliminate athletic fees and extra curricular fees typically charged by other school systems. This allows participation regardless of socioeconomic status.

Anonymous said...

Reply from LegalBeaglette:

Sweet cereal is sweet cereal. Some has more, some has less…but it is still sweet cereal. I could not find a definition for “low sugar” through MSDE or USDA. What I did learn was that Nutrition Standards for the breakfast and lunch programs (for reimbursable meals) include fruits, vegetables, grains, meats/meat alternatives, fluid milk…and calories, saturated fat, sodium, and trans fat specifications. What “guidance” is missing there?


Title 1 or MMFA – the crux of the question deals with high concentrations of low-income families. For an entire school to qualify for federal Title 1 funds, at least 40% of students must enroll in the free and reduced-price lunch programs, which is, as you stated, the criteria the state uses for MMFA designated schools.

As for sending a breakfast meal from home – I think someone failed to grasp that it is an erosion of “family time,” and it would not prevent access to the sweets being offered in the classroom at school. I am aware of the laudable efforts schools now make to accommodate serious (often life-threatening) food allergies; the meals the schools can provide are limited by the dietary restrictions of some students and staff. Breakfast at home allows for a wider variety of healthy menu options.

You stated that breakfast in the classroom is a “calm, interactive and social start to the school day.” Breakfast at home can be that, and more. It is part of a routine that includes dressing, eating, washing one’s hands and face, and brushing one’s teeth…and going off to school ready to learn.

Do I know that every child does not have that? Yes.

Does that mean that parents who do provide that for their children should stop? I certainly hope not.

That seems to be what the meal programs have become, though, with USDA providing guidance on how schools should “market” breakfast and lunch programs to students to expand participation. [ ]


This is not a condemnation of CCPS so much as it is a condemnation of (especially) the breakfast program – and not only in Maryland.

The former superintendent’s long term contract with Coca-Cola was a unilateral undertaking: the elected members of the Board of Education I spoke with then were not made aware of it beforehand. I was shocked to learn he could enter into such a contract without the sanction of the Board. How he planned to use the money was an argument to be made before he made such a commitment, not after he was challenged.