Breakfast At BHS

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brookhaven High School has finished its first week with breakfast added to the cafeteria rotation, but school officials aren’t sure yet whether the additional meal will become permanent.

     “After just a week it’s really hard to say,” said Tonya McSweyn, director of food services for the Brookhaven district.

     For many years, BHS has been the only school in the Brookhaven district without breakfast. But beginning Monday and lasting until the current school term ends, breakfast will be available for students and teachers.

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     Administration will then evaluate the results and see whether breakfast should be added permanently.

     According to records the school has been keeping, the highest number of students eating breakfast in the cafeteria after five days has been 58. Some other days have seen participation numbers in the low 50s.

     The school has been making enough food to cover approximately 70.

     In determining whether breakfast is here to stay, McSweyn said there isn’t a target participation rate the school is looking for. It just comes down to whether it’s financially possible.

      “I have not put pen to paper to determine how much it costs to prepare the breakfast,” McSweyn said. “We at least have to break even.”

     The school is reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the cost of students qualifying for free and reduced meals. Students qualifying for free meals pay nothing and reduced meal students pay 30 cents.

     McSweyn said the school is not looking to make a profit from breakfast.

     “Of course, we’d like to feed everybody,” McSweyn said. “But we can’t operate breakfast at a loss.”

     McSweyn said the school did offer breakfast many years ago, but participation dropped so low it had to be discontinued.

     Many high school students drive themselves, and that contributes to a lower breakfast participation rate, McSweyn said. The students typically only arrive in time for class.

     Still, McSweyn said the school is working to encourage students to make time for this important meal.

     So far, the added meal hasn’t meant much extra work for McSweyn. She prepares the menus for each school site, but has been able to largely copy BHS breakfast menus from other schools, with some modifications.

     Moving forward, though, she hopes to be able to tailor BHS menus to what students want after she is able to determine what the high school students like and don’t like.