McAlister Launches Grab-n-Go Breakfast Program

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Photo provided by Molly McKendry

Pictured in the McAlister cafeteria, Suffield Schools Food Service Director Ban Gashi, left, and dairy farmer Anne Dugas of Smyth Trinity Farm in Enfield display a giant check representing the $1,700 grant awarded to the school in support of improved student nutrition.

On Thursday, October 18, a check presentation was held at McAlister Intermediate School to recognize the awarding of $1,700 to the school by the New England Dairy & Food Council and the dairy farm families of Connecticut and New England. Over the summer, the school received the grant funding, which they used to purchase a mobile cart that now sits in the school’s main hallway to increase access to school breakfast. Since the Grab-n-Go program began on August 29, breakfast participation has almost doubled, with 50 more students eating a healthy breakfast each day compared to the previous year. McAlister Intermediate School’s Food Service Director Ben Gashi says this number continues to increase.

“We had always offered breakfast in the school’s cafeteria, but due to bus schedules and the location of the cafeteria, many students did not make it in time to eat.” Gashi said.

“We are pleased to be able to provide a healthy breakfast to more students with the Grab-n-Go cart. It’s located in the front hallway, so students can easily pick something up on their way to homeroom,” he explained. Since the program started, Gashi has received positive feedback from teachers who say students are arriving to class on time and seem more focused.

McAlister Intermediate School was eligible for grant funding due to their participation in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, the nation’s leading in-school physical activity and nutrition program. Locally, the funding for this program is provided by the dairy farm families of Connecticut, through a partnership between the Connecticut Milk Promotion Board and New England Dairy & Food Council. Connecticut dairy farmer Anne Dugas of Smyth Trinity Farm in Enfield attended the check presentation to congratulate the school on their accomplishments.

“Seeing the positive impact the Grab-n-Go cart has had on this school’s breakfast program is a reminder that the work New England dairy farmers are doing is so important.” Dugas said. “We want to continue to support our students and our communities through farming and programs like Fuel Up to Play 60.”

For more information, follow New England Dairy & Food Council on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and visit

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