The Breakfast Program at the Marina Teen Center serves breakfast to approximately 165 to 225 Marina middle school and high school students each morning between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. during the school year, excluding breaks and holidays.
The program was developed as a result of concerns from the safe school surveys on attendance, truancy and tardiness to school. The main purpose of The Breakfast Program is to provide a safe place and to support our middle school and high school students that need to be dropped off by their care givers who have to be at work or headed to work prior to the school sites being open in the morning.
One of the big successes of The Breakfast Program is that it is free, it is open to all, and anonymity is maintained. The meal consists of a variety of items based on input received from students who attend the morning program each morning. Attendees have daily choices from a consistent menu of cold and hot cereal, fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bagels and cream cheese, juice and hot chocolate, and a home cooked hot item such as French toast sticks, mini pancakes, etc.
The intergenerational interaction that our volunteers provide is another huge reason for the success of this program. A majority of our volunteers are seniors over 55 from our community. Our senior volunteers arrive at 6 a.m. every morning as a labor of love and our students feel that love. The students respect and enjoy this interaction.
Since The Breakfast Program survives on donations it also contributes to a sense of community. The Marina community has united around this program and the village is raising the child. That sense of community through this program has huge benefits, both in the short term and long term for the caring of our students. It is not an easy process to maintain and if changed it would be hard to replace.
The format elements listed above for the morning Teen Center program have resulted in county and national recognition and awards. This formula put all together has resulted in the tardiness, absentee and poor attendance numbers at both schools in the morning to be drastically improved, truancy at both schools to be drastically reduced, serious incidents of student behavior on the way to school to be non-existent, and a sense of community built around this program has expanded for our students to many of the other programs over 7 days a week.