On a recent sunny Thursday morning, students lined up in the cafeteria to grab free waffles at Michele Clark Magnet High School before the school day started. The waffles are a new pilot program created by Chicago Public Schools to get more students to participate in school breakfast.
Jason Mojica, executive director of CPS’ nutritional support services, said the waffles will be a permanent addition, being served on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Over 100 students showed up to try the waffles on the first day they were offered. Usually, the school averages about 30 students eating the school breakfast, Mojica said.
“The intent is to roll this out at a few more schools,” he said. “We’re going to take a phased approach at doing this and identifying schools that have low-breakfast participation, particularly high schools.”
Mojica said he got the idea to serve waffles from visiting college food courts and hotels. The freshly made whole-grain waffles align with the USDA’s child nutrition program and school food focus’ ingredient policy. Ingredients like artificial sweeteners, flavor enhancers and flour conditioners are all banned from school food items.
The breakfast at Michele Clark, provided by Aramark, serves toast, sausage, yogurt, cantaloupe, eggs and apple sauce. Students can choose up to five items, and eat in the cafeteria or take it to go.
Michele Clark will be renovating one of its cafeterias over the summer to create a food court experience, Mojica said. A pizza station, a deli station with paninis and a grab-and-go station will be available in the new cafeteria starting in August.
“It will be the first one of its kind in all of CPS. I’m really excited about that,” Mojica said.