STATE—One hundred fifty one Pennsylvania schools, including six within the three W's, are set to receive grants up to $5,000 each to offer secondary serving methods for school breakfast programs in the 2019-2020 school year.

The goal of this mini-grant program, now in its second year of disbursements, is to grow and sustain breakfast participation by 20 percent in recipient schools, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) website.

Secretary of Education, Pedro A, Rivera stated in a press release, “We know that only 50 percent of the students who receive a free or reduced lunch also receive breakfast. The mini-grants enable schools to address food security issues and help more students by either starting a new breakfast program or by improving an existing one.”

Wayne County schools to receive funding include the Western Wayne Middle School, the Wayne Highlands Middle School, Damascus Area School, and Wallenpaupack's Primary School, South Elementary School, and High School, bringing in over $21,000 to the area.

“Breakfast is the most important part of the day,” said Maria Liptak, a registered dietician and Food Service Manager for the Western Wayne School District, “It helps with learning to start off with breakfast.”

Liptak explained Western Wayne plans to use its funding to establish a grab-and-go style breakfast kiosk in the middle school's lower level.

The location would increase student accessibility by allowing for more convenient acquisition of breakfast essentials such as milk, juice, fresh fruit and cereal while still leaving students plenty of time to prepare for first period.

Even though the delivery method is designed for expediency, students are still offered as full a meal at the kiosk as would be offered in the cafeteria.

Liptak explained the goal is to increase daily breakfast participation to 20 percent of the student body. This would open the district up to more funding opportunities.

Currently, the middle school serves breakfast to around 85 students.

Likewise aiming for that 20 percent participation, Wayne Highlands School District (WHSD) will similarly employ a grab-and-go style kiosk at the middle school and Damascus.

“We're looking to expedite the process, add to convenience and increase participation,” explained WHSD Superintendent Gregory Frigoletto.

Damascus school currently serves breakfast to an average of 21 students per day and the middle school serves an average of 50.

Frigoletto relayed other schools in the district implementing similar grab-and-go kiosks have been met with great success.

Grant funds will be distributed in August for use to set up at the start of the new school year.

Now in its second year of distribution, the mini-grant program has $600,000 available each year to expand school breakfast programs across the Commonwealth.

More information regarding the mini-grant program is available on the PDE website: www.education.pa.gov.

—Information from a release was used in this story.