Evanston Township High School has received two monetary awards that recognize the school’s expanded breakfast program and its innovations in milk programming.

The first award, totaling $3,000 from the Midwest Dairy Council, supports the ETHS Nutrition Services Department’s decision to promote the importance of breakfast to its nearly 3,000 students by increasing the number of breakfast sites, by expanding the time breakfast is served, and by varying the breakfast food options available to the students.

According to Meghan Gibbons, Nutrition Services Director, “We wanted to boost the number of students who eat breakfast before starting their school day, so we added a second cafeteria that serves breakfast and greatly varied the foods we offer including hot items, daily specials, and grab ‘n’ go items such as granola bars, fresh fruit, egg muffin sandwiches, and pastries.”

The efforts have paid off, said Gibbons. “We have increased breakfast participation by over 100 students each day this year compared to last year.”

ETHS will use the $3,000 award for promotional efforts during National School Breakfast Week (March 3-6), including offering a free breakfast to each student customer.

In addition to the Midwest Dairy Council award, ETHS and Kemp’s Dairy (Chicago) are the third-prize national winners of the Leadership in School Nutrition Award (LISN), co-sponsored by the National Dairy Council and Dairy Field magazine.

The LISM Award recognizes exceptional partnerships between dairy processors and schools through innovations in milk programming that utilize kid-appealing, recyclable plastic packaging. Each organization will receive $1,000 to be used toward future school-nutrition efforts.

ETHS was one of the first districts in Illinois to try out new packaging to attract more students to drink milk. To make the plan a success, Gibbons worked with Kemps and a local school-district cooperative for three years to replace 8-ounce paper cartons with 8-ounce plastic, recyclable bottles of milk.

According to Gibbons: “Students consume more milk in the plastic bottles because they can visually see what’s left in the container. Students purchase more milk in grab ‘n’ go containers, which can be easily recycled where as paper cartons cannot due to the wax on the carton.”

In addition, Gibbons enlisted former Chicago Bear and ETHS alum Emery Moorehead to help promote milk, made changes in the way milk was merchandised, and heavily promoted different flavor choices. “Milk consumption has increased 5-percent since we switched to plastic and added flavors,” said Gibbons.

The $1,000 prize will used to promote recycling in ETHS’s four student cafeterias such as putting labels on all recyclable food products. Gibbons is also working with the school’s student Recycling Club on materials for a marketing campaign.

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