Breakfast Alive and Well in Barrow Co., Georgia

Above: Fuel Up to Play 60 student ambassadors at Westside Middle School in Winder, Ga. pose with Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.
Barrow County School Breakfast Week

SUDIA and USDA staff members pose with Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (top row, center) at Westside Middle School’s National School Breakfast Week celebration.

The Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA), Atlanta Falcons, Fuel Up to Play 60, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Georgia Department of Education (DOE) gathered recently at Westside Middle School in Winder, Ga. to celebrate National School Breakfast Week and honor Barrow County, Georgia’s efforts to make breakfast more available to its students. The festivities took place in March with a celebration in the school cafeteria and a press conference in the school gymnasium.

Following the success of Barrow County’s district-wide free breakfast program (established at the start of the 2015-2016 school year), Westside Middle School was able to achieve first place in the 2015 Atlanta Falcons #FuelGreatness Breakfast Contest, which measured school breakfast participation and milk consumption among schools in Georgia participating in Fuel Up to Play 60. With free breakfast for all students regardless of income, Westside Middle School was able to achieve a 37 percent increase in breakfast participation and a 19 percent increase in milk consumption.

Barrow County School Breakfast Week

Freddie Falcon shares a joke with the cafeteria staff at Westside Middle School in Winder, Ga. during National School Breakfast Week.

In response, the Atlanta Falcons, SUDIA, USDA and other partners co-hosted a special “Brunch for Lunch” meal featuring Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders, Falcons mascot “Freddie Falcon” and Falcons defensive tackle (#97) Grady Jarrett. While Freddie Falcon zipped through the cafeteria on a motorized scooter and joked with administrators and staff, Jarrett went table to table, speaking one-on-one with students about their nutrition and fitness. All the while, students were able to enjoy breakfast classics for lunch such as milk, scrambled eggs, grits and hash browns.

Westside Middle School students were highly involved in the event. A small army of green-shirt-clad Fuel Up to Play 60 student ambassadors directed foot traffic; helped host a Fuel Up to Play 60 photo booth with props ranging from Atlanta Falcons helmets to larger-than-life milk bottles; and ushered students and guests into the school gymnasium with an impressive drum line.

The event highlighted the shared goal of SUDIA, Fuel Up to Play 60 and USDA, which is to give students better access to the nutrition they need in order to succeed. It is proven that breakfast—particularly breakfast featuring low-fat dairy, fruit and whole grains—helps students perform better in school and avoid absences.

Check out this video from the celebration, featuring interviews from Barrow County Superintendent Dr. Chris McMichael, USDA Southeast Special Nutrition Programs Director Lanna Kirk and Georgia DOE Assistant State Director, School Nutrition Division, Kathy Peavy.

Dig in for more about the National School Breakfast Week!

– Joel Hall, MA 

Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (www.southeastdairy.org)