What's for breakfast: school meals are changing

SOUTH BEND A big barrier to breakfast is cost. Now, more kids are eating the first meal of the day at school in South Bend thanks to a change in price. This year, the South Bend Community School Corporation made breakfast free to all students.

The change comes with guidelines. Schools have stricter nutrition rules to follow. During the 2013-14 school year, breakfast must include whole grains, a half cup serving of fruit or vegetables and low-fat or non-fat milk. Next year, the guidlines get stricter.

"We're always looking for new items to entice kids to come for breakfast," said Karen Case, the nutrition education facilitator at SBCSC. "Just to make sure they have something to eat that they enjoy."

The number of kids eating breakfast has slowly increased over the past decade, about 1-3% per year. In 2013, participation jumped 5% thanks to free breakfast.

"Right now, we serve about 56% of our school population for breakfast," said Case. "Whereas at lunch we serve [closer to] 80%, so we still have a ways to grow."

72.6% of the South Bend student population is eligible for free or reduced lunch. That large percentage is part of what led to the decision of serving breakfast free of charge.

March 3-7 is National School Breakfast week, and South Bend is celebrating with new whole grain options like waffles, banana bread and chicken biscuits. To learn more, click here.

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