MARION — Tri-Rivers was one of nine school districts in Ohio to receive recognition for the 2020-2021 Breakfast & Beyond from the Ohio School Breakfast Challenge. Schools were recognized for their innovative and collaborative approach to maximize participation in meal programs, ensuring all students have access to school meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At Tri-Rivers we created Grab-n-Go breakfast carts in the cafeteria and hallways, served hot breakfasts daily in the cafeteria and we packaged breakfast and lunch meals for remote learners,” said Angela Branam, the Career Center’s Cafeteria Manager. “We wanted to ensure that all of our students have easy access to breakfast and lunch.”

“The breakfast carts allow us to maintain social distancing, catch students who are late and increase our speed of service,” said Branam. “One of the goals of increasing access to breakfast was to increase the number of students that eat breakfast every day. Students are excited about all the options and enjoy the items offered. Utilizing USDA foods for breakfast and lunch has reduced food costs. Breakfast participation has increased by 73 percent by increasing food options and access to breakfast.”

Branam said the program was a collaboration between her cafeteria team, building administrators, teachers, the school nurse, students, support staff, parents and community health officials.

Branam said, “Our food service staff worked with food suppliers during the pandemic to determine types of food that could be used for meals on campus and sent home with students for remote learning. At the beginning of the school year, availability of meals and pickup times were promoted to students and parents by the communications department and building principal.”

“New sanitation and food handling procedures are in place for preparation and distribution of foods. All meals and food items must be properly covered for all packaged meals sent home on remote learning days. Staff time has increased to ensure safety in preparation and packaging of meals for remote learning. The building staff and administrators have helped in the distribution of meals on remote days. Their help has been critical to ensure enough people are available to distribute meals to students.”

School districts that submitted a Breakfast & Beyond story, received a “Super Star” electronic medallion to place on their school website, menus, and other community focused communications. The medallion signifies their distinguished work in serving Breakfast & Beyond.

The Ohio School Breakfast Challenge’s mission is to increase access and participation in the School Breakfast & School Meal Programs, ensuring Ohio students start each day ready to learn. The Ohio Department of Education, American Dairy Association Mideast, Children’s Hunger Alliance and Ohio School Nutrition Association are proud sponsors of the Ohio School Breakfast Challenge.

Tri-Rivers Career Center plans to continue breakfast carts in the hall and new grab n go items on the menu next school year.

For information about the Ohio School Breakfast Challenge, visit

Angela Branam, Tri-Rivers Cafeteria Manager, serves students in the cafeteria. Branam, Tri-Rivers Cafeteria Manager, serves students in the cafeteria. Courtesy photo | TRCC