A blue panther and a banana walk into an elementary school …
It’s no joke. Besides the latest dusting of snow, a rare pair of maître ds greeted students at Oak Park Elementary School on Thursday morning. The Power Panther and an enthused sidekick were handing out high fives and stickers as they directed diners to the gym and cafeteria to pick up meals they would eat in their classrooms before school.
It’s National School Breakfast Week, an annual celebration established in 1989 to raise awareness of the availability of the School Breakfast Program, a federally assisted meal program operating in public schools since 1975.
“A healthy breakfast at the start of the day is one way to ensure students are getting the best education they can,” said Amanda Miller, DMPS Director of Food & Nutrition. “National School Breakfast Week helps us educate parents and students about all the healthy, great tasting, and appealing choices we offer.”
The district serves more than 15,000 free breakfast meals daily through the federally funded program. NSBW includes the introduction of new menu items. This year an assortment of breakfast sandwiches are rolling out at DMPS secondary schools.
Program mascot Power Panther is making the rounds of district elementary schools throughout the week, in keeping with this year’s campaign theme of “Start Your Engines.” Monday’s stop was Pleasant Hill, followed by Hillis, Moore and Oak Park before taking the checkered flag at Garton on Friday.
The entourage visited one of the Oak Park kindergarten classrooms to provide some interactive live entertainment as an engine starter to top off the daily routines of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, renewing their contract with one another and sitting down to eat breakfast together before getting to work. Everyone stood and collaborated on the Power Panther Cheer:
Nothing beats eating smart
Good for head, good for heart
Hands up high
Feet down low
Move your body
Don’t move too slow
Parents and students can follow the fun on Facebook.com/TrayTalk using the hashtag #NSBW19.