Grant-funded program aimed at increasing breakfast participation

This past summer, Toms River Regional Schools and its Food Services Department was awarded a $4,000 grant from Sustainable Jersey for Schools based on its application to host Mobile Breakfast Academy at the high school level. Implementation of the program has been a months-long process, and is now beginning to take off at the three high schools.

Mobile Breakfast Academy brings breakfast to students where they’re at it-- coming in from the bus or parking lot. The district is confident that an accessible mobile cart with grab and go options will encourage more students to eat what is widely considered the most important meal of the day.

“Our department has been hoping to enact a program like this for some time,” said Food Services Director Pete Brattan, “and this grant provided us the perfect opportunity. Being able to bring breakfast directly to students rather than hoping they make it to the cafeteria is going to result in higher breakfast participation, and that means more well-fed, alert, and successful students.”

The “academy” theme of the mobile breakfast program is a nod to the district’s implementation of three Career Academies at its three high schools to begin this school year, and the accessible grab and go option is intended to mirror the pace and culture of the professional world. The high schools also have notably early start times-- 7:15 a.m.-- and it’s not unusual for students to lament not having enough time for breakfast at home or at school before classes begin. In addition to providing a healthy meal, Mobile Breakfast Academy hopes to be the start of a “breakfast after the bell” initiative through which students will be allowed to eat breakfast during first period classes, fostering a type of higher education environment and a culture of individual responsibility.

“When it comes down to it, what we’re really trying to do with Mobile Breakfast Academy is to eliminate any obstacle that might prevent a student from having breakfast,” said Brattan. “Whether that be time, distance, lack of convenience … whatever. We want to ensure every student has full and easy access to a complete breakfast.”

With the grant funding, the Food Services Department plans to purchase additional mobile carts to fully implement the program at all high schools by early 2018. High School North has hosted a soft rollout since early fall, and the program premiered at High School South Dec. 11. Food Services plans to fully initiate the program at High School East and by adding a second mobile cart at HSN by mid-January.

In addition to flyers and school announcements, the department will work with marketing students to promote the program.

The Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant award was part of its 2017 Health and Wellness Cycle, which is funded by the New Jersey Department of Health and its regional partners. The district’s partner in this program is EmPoWER Somerset, an organization that encourages prevention with education and resources.

The Health and Wellness Cycle grant marked the second Sustainable Jersey funding award the district earned in 2017. In early spring, through Toms River Township and its Green Team, Toms River Regional Schools earned a $20,000 grant to revamp its Poseidon Academy downtown. The district currently has six schools registered with Sustainable NJ, five of which have pending grant applications for Sustainable NJ’s most recent grant cycle.

For more information about Mobile Breakfast Academy, contact Pete Brattan at 732-505-5597 or pbrattan@trschools.com.

For more information about grant programs or the district’s Green Team through Sustainable Jersey, contact Mike Kenny at 732-505-5539 or mkenny@trschools.com. UPDATE below:

HSS cart
Grab & Go
High School South students and Food Service reps gather by the Grab and Go breakfast cart that promotes the school’s Mobile Breakfast Academy.

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EmPoWER

EmPoWER Somerset is the district's partner and primary resource for Mobile Breakfast Academy.

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