By Seth Coleman
Fish and grits for breakfast? At school? Yes, please!
The quintessential southern morning meal was on the menu, Wednesday (March 9) at Maynard H. Jackson High School, to provide a little something special in honor of National School Breakfast Week (March 7-11) for students, faculty, staff and visitors to the campus.
The annual observation, being celebrated this week by schools from coast to coast, brought a number of high-profile visitors to Jackson, including Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods and Angela Tagtow, Executive Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
“I have been really impressed with the energy in the room and the excitement around breakfast,” Tagtow said, amid the hustle and bustle of 400 students dining on everything from smoothies, to yogurt parfaits, to fresh fruit and cereal, to the signature item of the morning – fish and grits. “I think what makes this special is the enthusiasm and energy of the staff. You can tell everyone realizes the importance of breakfast.”
Atlanta Public Schools has earned high marks for its school nutrition program under the leadership of Nutrition Department Director Dr. Marilyn Hughes. She has kept APS at the forefront of the industry through innovative programs like “Chef’s Table,” in which the district’s five chefs bring groups of students together periodically to get their opinions on new food items.
Dr. Hughes is also a supporter of school garden clubs, which Jackson has, and the USDA’s Community Eligibility Provision. The initiative permits schools and school districts in high poverty areas the ability to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students, thereby eliminating the burden of collecting household applications to determine eligibility for school meals.
“The goal is to make sure all of our kids are eating healthy, nutritious meals,” Dr. Hughes said. “And we want to be able to modify our menu so that it reflects nutritious items our kids like to eat.”