By Jeff Fox

Students in the Independence School District will soon have a wider array of breakfast options.

The Midwest Dairy Council on Monday gave the district $93,637 to promote the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program. The idea is to get kids active for at least an hour a day, and part of doing that is getting them a good breakfast.

“We’re trying to teach those lifetime habits,” said Marley Sugar, a registered dietician who is the health and wellness program manager for the Midwest Dairy Council.

The district will use the money to expand some programs. For example, about 100 of the roughly 600 students at Van Horn High School are getting breakfast at school, and that will be expanded to 350.

Nutrition, activitiy and success in the classroom are all related, officials say.

“We also know hunger is an issue. ... Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry,” Sugar said.

High school can be a particular challenge.

“You know, high school kids, they just kind of fall out of bed and they’re here,” said Michele Crumbaugh, the district’s director of nutrition services.

So there are programs like a second-change breakfast. That’s for the student who gets to school, rushes to class, realizes she’s hungry and can still grab something after first hour. Grab ‘n’ go kiosks in high-traffic areas have meals that adhere to federal rules – Crumbuagh says those have been tightened over the years – and have a breakfast with fruit, grains, protein and dairy.

The district is broadening its breakfast programs in the middle schools and high schools. It’s different in the elementaries, some of which have cafeterias that double as gyms and are in use all day. Elementaries have had breakfast-in-the-classroom programs for four years.

The school district also is using the Dairy Council money to switch from milk cartons to plastic bottles, which can be recycled. That’s a popular idea with kids, too, officials said.

The main idea, Crumbaugh said, is to try new things and help kids do better in school.

“Obviously this money will do a lot for all the initiatives we’re doing in the Independence School District,” said Superintendent Dale Herl.