Conemaugh Township Area School District
Food Service Director: Adam Thomas
Conemaugh Township Area S.D.
District Enrollment: 1139
District Free/Reduced: 38%
The Creative Strategy: Universal Breakfast
Another strategy that is used at Conemaugh Township Area School District to increase participation is a Universal free breakfast program. When Adam Thomas decided to start a breakfast program during his second year as Food Service Director, he promoted the new program by offering it at no charge for a month. Although he noted high participation levels while breakfast was free, participation dropped when he began charging for breakfast. Adam conducted a financial analysis which convinced him that he could continue to offer breakfast for free. This approach fit perfectly with Adam's view of the goal of school breakfast which is not to make money but to "get as many kids a good start to their day."
Joseph DiBartola, Superintendent at Conemaugh Township Area School District echoes this sentiment, "Educationally, if we really want kids to perform in the classroom, both socially, academically and emotionally, we just bought in to saying that they need to have a good start of the day. That's the reason that we offer a free program."
Administrators and teachers have noted benefits as a result of the school breakfast program, in particular citing improvement in test scores. Although not a scientific analysis, Adam points out that his district recently earned the highest SAT scores among school districts in Intermediate Unit 8. They have also had successful football, and boys' soccer and girls' soccer teams. Although he can not specifically credit the breakfast programs for these successes, Adam can and does believe that his district "definitely has some successful kids that have the right attitude and the right start to their day and we are very happy and very proud of them."