Missouri school districts get a challenge from the state and the Midwest Dairy Council to increase participation in school breakfast.
The challenge offers cash rewards to districts that can raise participation in breakfast 20% during the next school year.
Carl Junction officials last year moved up drop off times at schools by five minutes hoping to get an increase in breakfast eaters and will try to do more with the competition now.
Breakfast includes fruit, protein grains and milk, everything from cereal to eggs and sausage and costs a mere $0.70 in Joplin for those who pay but would be free or cheaper to many since 60% qualify for free and reduced meals.
Food service directors say the difference from lunch to breakfast numbers means some are likely hungry at school.
"Typically breakfast participation is low - it's about 30% of the student body is eating school breakfast, we'd like to see that increase," says Rick Kenkel, the Joplin Schools Food Services Director. "Giving them a good start to the day is vitally important to keeping academic scores, test scores up. Lunch is typically 70% so there's a big difference there."
The competition goes all year so cafeterias have plenty of time to be creative. There will be winners in four tiers of districts by population. Gold awards will mean $4,000 for four school districts, four silver awards of $2,500 each, and four bronze winners at $1,000 each.