SUNNYSIDE (WAKING) UP
Charlotte Heinrich, features + in-depth editor
Ethan Peter, features writer
Leighton Carpenter, sophomore, emerges from his bus and walks through the cold winter air into the school with other bus riders. Once inside, Carpenter turns right and makes his way to the cafeteria, where he begins his school day by buying a Kickstart, a nutrition bar and sitting next to his best friend.
“[I would recommend the breakfast here] because you just get to hang out with your friends,” Carpenter said. “It’s like a second lunch.”
Audrey Westrich, KSD food service director, said cases like Carpenter come as a surprise to many students. Thirty-seven percent (112/304) of KHS students are unaware breakfast is offered at KHS, and still more do not realize it is offered to every student.
“It is a huge misconception,” Westrich said. “Right now, about 80 percent of our [breakfast] students are free and reduced, and only 20 percent [of] students [pay for breakfast]. It is available to everybody.”
According to Westrich, KHS not only offers breakfast to all students, but also ensures that it is affordable. Students can buy breakfast consisting of a sandwich, hash browns, fruit and a drink for $2.20.
Westrich said these options attract around 50 students to the cafeteria for breakfast each day. Meanwhile, an average of 140 students take a trip down the hall daily to get coffee at Pioneer Perks, according to Josh Gift, Community Based Vocational Instructor (CBVI instructor). Gift said he hopes these students are not neglecting breakfast in order to pick up a coffee.
“I would hope that people are eating something at least before they come to school, and [coffee] is just extra fuel for them,” Gift said. “It’s not my place to ask ‘Hey, did you eat breakfast today?’”
Gift said Pioneer Perks is meant to supplement breakfast instead of replacing it. According to Katheryn Scauzzo, Palm Health registered dietician, a common misconception is that coffee is a source of energy to get through the day.
“When we look at coffee, it’s more of a stimulant,” Scauzzo said. “It’s giving the body this false positive read that it has enough energy, but [the coffee] isn’t providing energy unless you are adding sugar or creamer to it.”
According to Romona Miller, assistant principal, the administration would consider merging Pioneer Perks and the cafeteria through rearranging locations. Miller said the merge would allow students simplified access to breakfast.
“It would be a nice idea to be able to partner those two things together,” Miller said. “Maybe [students] get coffee and then we have granola or something [too]. I think that really would get more enticement from the students because a lot of them take advantage of the caffeine fix, so including a little breakfast would be nice.”
These potential changes are ways Miller is considering addressing what she sees as an energy deficiency among high school students as a result of not eating breakfast. Scauzzo said making time for breakfast can have both short-term and long-term benefits for teens.
“Because the brain needs so much energy, we want to be providing the proper nutrients and energy to make the most appropriate decisions or to retain certain information,” Scauzzo said. “Looking down the line, in terms of weight maintenance [and] proper energy utilization, cells are actually able to determine and distinguish when you are feeding them the appropriate amount of energy.”
Miller said even a small breakfast can give students the opportunity to learn more effectively. She encourages students to take advantage of their resources rather than waiting for lunch. However, Scauzzo warned that not all breakfast foods are created equal.
“Be mindful about the choices you are putting in your body throughout the day,” Scauzzo said. “Specifically breakfast because we’re essentially breaking the fast. We’re setting the body up to function in a way that can either be beneficial or detrimental.”
Connor Keefe, junior:
“I have too many friends to sit at one table. It is easier to just walk around because you get to go from group to group without having to get up out of a chair. You can socialize better [in the commons].”
Grace Gill, sophomore:
“[In the commons], it is more open and all of my friends are out here. I feel like it is not as loud as the cafeteria and a lot of people are walking in and out of the cafeteria all of the time and bumping into chairs. [Sitting in the commons] is more comfortable.”
Andrew Herweck, junior:
“I like the vibe [in the commons] more. I feel like there are more people. I guess if more people sat in the cafeteria, maybe I would sit in the cafeteria. Since more people sit out here, I just sit out here naturally.”
Paige McPhillips, freshman:
“I sit in the commons because my friends sit there, and it is a more vibrant area. There is a lot of light and plants.”
Megan McGhee, sophomore:
“I sit in the commons because I have never actually eaten in the cafeteria. It seems kind of formal and also kind of scary. It may be loud in the commons, but it is louder in the cafeteria.”
Lauren Fischer, junior:
“When I’m in the cafeteria, I see people working on homework and being quiet. In the commons, it’s louder so everyone is talking and I know a lot of people so I can talk to whoever.”
Peter Hooks, junior:
“I get lunch from the cafeteria so it’s a shorter walk. Freshman year I sat outside because it was nicer, but it’s actually more convenient to sit in the cafeteria.”
Ahmir Sheppard, junior:
“[The cafeteria] is a safer place and a good environment. I’ve been sitting in a cafeteria my whole life.”
Adam Dickinson, sophomore:
“The commons are a bit more crowded and it’s less private [in the cafeteria]. You can sit with your friends and talk more instead of being cramped up in the commons.”
David Hammond, senior:
“I’ve always eaten in the cafeteria mostly because that’s where all my friends are. We picked out a table, and we haven’t really moved. I’ve only sat in the commons once or twice but I’ve never really seen a big difference.”
18% of KHS students (55/303) use the vending machines at KHS at least once a week.
22% of students in a national survey ate non-cafeteria (primarily from vending machines) food items on a school day.
In a nationwide study, 75 percent* of the drinks and 85 percent of snacks sold from vending machines are of poor nutritional value.
Candy, chips and baked goods account for 80 percent* of vending machine snack choices. 26 out of 9,723 snack slots contain fruits or vegetables.
Of the 13,650 surveyed vending machine drinks, 70 percent are sugary drinks such as soda, artificial juice drinks (with less than 50 percent real juice), iced tea and “sports” drinks. The sodas are 14 percent diet, and water is only 12 percent of the drinks available.