Dowell, MD – Recognizing that satisfying the need for nourishment is an essential component to learning, Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) have answered the challenge. On Friday, Sept. 19, several school officials gathered at Dowell Elementary School (DES) for the Governor’s Official Breakfast Challenge kickoff event.

Donald L. Knode II, CCPS supervisor of the Child Nutrition Program (formerly known as the Food Service Program), said the aim of the challenge was to increase breakfast participation at schools.

Eating a good breakfast, said Knode, “increases retention and the ability to learn.”
Knode called the promotion of school breakfasts a program that has “been a long time coming.” Addressing the DES parents in the school cafeteria, Knode said “please have your children participate in this.”

“This is a plus,” said Guffrie Smith, a member of the Maryland Board of Education, and a retired CCPS teacher and administrator. “Everybody’s concerned with obesity and nutrition.”

The early start of school often means a student with a long daily bus ride has to skip breakfast. There have been numerous studies showing this routine is detrimental to learning.

Calvert’s school breakfast consists of a main entrée—servings of grain and/or protein—fruit and a beverage. This pattern complies with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendation to provide students with one-quarter to one-third of their daily nutritional needs.

According to DES cafeteria manager Debbie Robinson, it takes her staff of three about 30 minutes to prepare breakfast, which has served as many as 100 students on any given morning. Robinson said one of DES students’ breakfast favorites is the “jiffy,” which is a sausage wrapped in a pancake. On this particular morning, however, the cafeteria is serving French toast.

“Who doesn’t like French toast? The kids seem to be enjoying it,” declared Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daniel Curry. “For many kids this is where their day begins.”

The demeanor of the individuals serving the food can be every bit as important as the food itself. Curry said just about everyone has a “lunch lady” anecdote to tell in recalling his or her school experience.

“We have good community-based people in Calvert County,” said Knode, who called CCPS’ cafeteria staffs “student friendly and conscientious.”

The daily full price for breakfast in CCPS is $1.55. A “reduced price” breakfast is available for 30 cents to students whose parents apply for it. According to a CCPS flier on the Child Nutrition Program, applications for the reduced meals are available in the front office of every school throughout the school year.

Contact Marty Madden at