Pictured above – Laker Food Service Head Cook Cinamon Marker makes smoothies for breakfast-goers at Laker Secondary School. Pictured below, Laker Secondary School students enjoy a variety of breakfast items, such as bagels and cream cheese and a yogurt bar, as the breakfast menu has expanded this school year.
More choices, fresher options, delicious desserts.
This is a recipe that’s led to success for the Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker food service program. Recent changes have led to a significant increase in lunch revenues. These revenues allowed the district to put more money back into staffing and additional improvements.
One of the investments involved bumping up two food service employees to full-time – Mary Pryor and Cinamon Marker. They are both head cooks.
With the extra time, both ladies are leading the charge to continue providing more choices for students.
“We want to keep this momentum rolling,” said Superintendent Brian Keim. “We will continue to offer more and better food choices at lunch, but also want to provide healthier breakfast options for students. Already in the first two weeks, we’ve seen our breakfast numbers nearly double with the meals that are being offered. We’re very proud of the efforts of our food service staff.”
Marker said one of her goals this year is to increase participation in the breakfast program at the secondary school. In previous years, a student breakfast consisted of a cereal kit, with a pre-packaged hot breakfast being served about once a week. This year, the choices have been greatly expanded to meet the varying tastes of hungry students. The choices include plain bagels, cinnamon/raison bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit smoothies, yogurt bar with various toppings, hard-boiled eggs, apples, bananas, oranges, juice cups and whole-grain cereal bars. The cereal kits also are available. Marker said one day a week, she’d like to offer a hot breakfast, such as a breakfast casserole, breakfast sandwiches or egg burritos. This is still in the planning stages.
The secondary school students are allowed to eat their breakfast in their first-hour class.
“I’d like to see our breakfast numbers go up to 200 students,” Marker said. “Last year, only 30-40 students took breakfast each day. Now, we have about 80 a day.”
As for the elementary breakfast, students have cereal kits, which they consume in their classrooms. Marker said she’d like to eventually expand the breakfast choices there, as well, but she wanted to see how well everything worked at the secondary school first.
Last school year, one of the improvements that led to the increase in lunch revenues was having a special of the day a few times a week. These specials, which were served at both schools, were made with fresh ingredients and many were locally sourced. Marker coordinated these specials, and she will continue to offer them this year.
“Starting in October, I want to have these specials of the day on the menu calendar, so parents will know what these specials are and what days they will be served,” Marker said.
Additional lunch choices made their debut last school year at the secondary school. Marker said there is a cold case cooler that features various types of sandwiches, such as ham or turkey, along with other cold items like yogurt. Students also could choose items from the hot case, which included chicken sandwiches, fish sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers. Students enjoy having these extra options, she said.
Harvest of the Month will continue this year, Marker said, and this program highlighted a fruit or a vegetable for students to try. The chosen fruit or vegetable was featured in freshly-made salad bar items during lunches at both schools.
“The kale chips were very popular,” Marker noted.
The Chef Ann grant project will continue, as well, which involved Marker and student helpers taking samples of fresh fruit or vegetables to classrooms for elementary and secondary students to try. Last year, students tasted cabbage, grapes, peppers, jicama, pears, sugar snap peas and more. So far this school year, students sampled mangoes.
To satisfy students’ sweet teeth, a whole-grain based dessert will be offered once a week at both schools, Marker said. This is another menu addition continued from last year.
Marker said the students’ reaction to the changes has been very positive.
“It makes me happy to see the students happy,” she said. “I’m also glad that more students are eating breakfast, because it’s such an important meal.”
Pryor also is pleased with having more choices for students, and she’s thankful to have more hours during the week to get things done.
“It will allow me to spend more time on organizing,” she said.
Laker sophomore Isiah Gray said he’s really enjoying the expanded choices at breakfast and lunch because it offers more opportunity for students to get something they like. He especially enjoys the fruit smoothies.
“They’re very tasty and healthy,” he said.