For Fern Elementary students, the first stop of the day is the cafeteria. “The school has made eating breakfast part of a whole program of positive support,” said first lady Dawn Amano-Ige. The governor and first lady chose Fern to help kick off “School Breakfast Month” in Hawai‘i March 1— part of the statewide Jump Start Breakfast campaign chaired by Mrs. Ige.
The students at that day’s morning assembly cheered as the governor (a regular breakfast eater) offered his own version of the Fern slogan. “We achieve because we believe . . . and we eat breakfast!” he said. The first lady emphasized, “Breakfast gives you a great start to learn, grow and be successful. We want the whole state of Hawai‘i to know, as you all do, how important eating a good breakfast is.” On that day, breakfast was a kalo bowl with yogurt, granola, pineapple, poi and breadfruit. The “Fernsters” also produced a video, “The Breakfast Rap,” and a “Keiki Makua Breakfast” chant.
The Jump Start Breakfast campaign will continue in the coming months with support from local community organizations and a national No Kid Hungry grant. Ten pilot schools statewide will be trying different options — grab-and-go, extended breakfast hours, and new menu choices — to see what works best for their students.
“The bottom line is we want our students to have the best start, the most successful start, in the school day and in their school careers,” said Mrs. Ige, whose own mother was a cafeteria baker at Campbell High. “My mom would come home and talk about how she could improve this or do (something) better),” she recalled. “Cafeteria workers play a big part in helping our education system become successful.”
Nurturing the positive at Fern Elementary
Fern Elementary principal Glen Miyasato, a nearly 40-year DOE veteran who speaks fluent Hawaiian, said he tried retirement and “didn’t like it.” So a year ago he became the new principal at this Kalihi school, where he and the Fern family embraced the first lady’s Jump Start Breakfast campaign and ran with it. “I’m so proud of our cafeteria staff,” he said. “We’re trying to change eating habits and nurture positive attitudes, and we’re grateful to the governor and first lady for helping us do that.”
The Jump Start campaign is part of a bigger program of positive support in a community that has its share of challenges. Every school day Miyasato, Fern’s vice principal and staff take turns walking a crowd of children along a busy highway to school from Kuhio Park Terrace. “It’s our ‘foot-mobile,’ said Miyasato, who has launched this and other programs to create a safe haven for Fern students.
“The parents appreciate it,” he said. Fern students start the day with a free, nutritious Jump Start breakfast, school announcements, and encouraging words. Hala Leitu, whose daughter, Abriella, is in the first grade, has nothing but praise for the school. “A lot of positive things have been happening. It’s been great for the community.”