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Good eats: NCSS honors National Breakfast Week

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Newton County Commissioner Mort Ewing was a "celebrity" guest server at Clements Theme School on Wednesday morning. He and other local officials, principals, administrators and other community members served breakfast to students in honor of National School Breakfast Week.

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Newton County Commissioner Mort Ewing was a "celebrity" guest server at Clements Theme School on Wednesday morning. He and other local officials, principals, administrators and other community members served breakfast to students in honor of National School Breakfast Week.

COVINGTON -- Students and staff in the Newton County School System are celebrating the most important meal of the day this week.

Schools and the school nutrition department scheduled several special activities this week in honor of National School Breakfast Week.

"This is the first year that the Newton County School Nutrition Department has done a promotion this large for National School Breakfast week," said Susan Stone, school nutrition coordinator at NCSS. "We would love to grow our breakfast participation at each of our schools, and especially would love more of our high school students to be eating breakfast."

In February, Newton County schools served 87,158 breakfasts -- an average of 6,226 meals per day. The average daily participation for February was 36.1 percent -- 41.2 in the elementary schools and 28.1 in secondary schools.

"At the beginning of the 2009-10 school year, we added new items to our breakfast menus at each of the three levels," Stone said. "While expanding our menus, we made sure to add items that would appeal to the growing taste buds of our middle and high school students, such as yogurt parfaits and bagels."

To help focus more on breakfast, this week schools held special giveaways and contests, and "celebrity" guest servers and school officials served students' breakfasts Wednesday morning.

"We have had a wonderful response from the community and our schools," Stone said. "Our School Nutrition Managers' ... enthusiasm and networking with their school's faculty and community has made this promotion both fun and successful."

This year's National School Breakfast Week theme is "Ready, Set, Go!"

"This theme illustrates that a nutritious breakfast served at school or home makes a child ready for a day of learning and being active," Stone said.

Earlier this school year, the Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition program recognized three Newton County schools for exceeding state averages in breakfast participation during the 2007-08 school year, the most recent year the state has recorded. Middle Ridge Elementary School showed a 60 percent participation rate that school year, Fairview Elementary School had a 58 percent rate and Sharp Learning Center had a 36 percent rate. Overall participation in the Newton County School System was 28 percent that school year; the state average for breakfast participation was 30.6 percent.

"Breakfast is essential for both adults and children alike, and we are hoping to foster good eating habits while our students are young and developing skills that they will carry into adulthood," Stone said. "Many research studies have shown that if a child does not eat breakfast in the morning, he or she will struggle to learn throughout the day. Students who eat breakfast have been shown to have higher academic scores, as well as fewer trips to the nurse's office."