Douglass Park Wins Gold

Douglass Park Wins Gold Award in VA Breakfast Challenge
Posted on 04/03/2019
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                                                Kathy O’Hara, Interim Staff
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Douglass Park Elementary School Named a Gold Winner

In the Virginia Breakfast Challenge

Douglass Park Elementary School has been named a Gold Winner in the Virginia Breakfast Challenge for the 2018-19 school year. The challenge is an initiative of several organizations that have partnered to connect more students with school breakfast in an effort to help ensure student academic success.

Douglass Park won the award based on its superior performance in the October 1 through December 31 time frame in a number of areas – increasing student participation, serving fruits in lieu of juice, ensuring at least one hot breakfast item and a protein item were served each day, offering local farm to school products over the course of a five day week, integrating a Harvest of the Month celebration into its breakfast program, hosting Community Breakfast Days and communicating important messages about school breakfast to parents and the community.

The sponsoring organizations for the Virginia Breakfast Challenge were No Kid Hungry Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, Virginia Hunger Solutions, and the Dairy Alliance. According to these organizations one in seven kids in Virginia live in households that struggle with hunger. Research shows that hunger has serious consequences for children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates, and higher risk of hospitalization and chronic diseases. Public school breakfast programs can help ensure that students get the morning nutrition they need. However, nearly half of all students who rely on school meals miss out on breakfast each day.

Douglass Park staff was very strategic about how to increase the number of their students eating breakfast each day. Principal Dr. Sherie Davis and Cafeteria Manager Veronica Whitehead collaborated, ultimately deciding to serve students breakfast in their classrooms each day rather than having them ushered en masse to the cafeteria. “Some students got a little overwhelmed by the crowded cafeteria, especially the smaller ones.  So we decided that we would get the attendance count, pack up breakfast bags and get enough bags to the classrooms so all children could eat. As a result, we averaged serving about 100 more breakfasts a day,” said Mrs. Whitehead. The cafeteria staff also had to ensure that students with allergies or specific dietary needs were taken into account and that breakfast bags were packed to reflect those individual needs.

“We are very proud of Douglass Park’s extraordinary efforts to ensure their breakfast meals were healthy, delicious and available to all students.  Dr. Sherie Davis and Ms. Whitehead are to be commended for all their hard work to make this happen,” said Food Services Coordinator James Gehlhoff.

To celebrate the schools’ success Douglass Park is being awarded $1,000 to support technological enhancements, field trips or playground equipment. The school will also receive a Virginia Breakfast Challenge banner.

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