Henning School unveils second chance breakfast

Photos by Chad Koenen
As part of a new pilot program, students at Henning School are able to get a late breakfast in the lunch room each day. The second chance breakfast allows students to get a late breakfast during a new 11 minute break each morning.

By Chad Koenen


The bell at Henning High School rings promptly at 9:47 a.m. each day. As students flood out of their classrooms they aren’t heading to their next class, yet a large number of them rush to the lunch room to grab a bag full of breakfast items on the go. 

The line stretches out into the hallway as students scurry from the lunch line to the tables set up in the lunch room, which also doubles as the elementary gym. 

For 11 minutes each day, students have to chance to get a second breakfast, or in the case of a number of late rising students, a chance to get something in their stomach for the first time, before the rest of the school day.

This winter the Henning School has unveiled a second chance breakfast opportunity. The second chance breakfast is being done on a trial basis as a way to give students a chance to get an additional bite to eat before continuing on with their day. The students who do not choose to get a second breakfast, have 11 minutes to essentially go to the bathroom, visit with friends and just take a break from the rigors of learning. 

The overall popularity of the program has been something that even the organizers of the second chance breakfast could not have imagined. Anywhere from 80-100 kids pick up a bag breakfast each day and with only 11 minutes to serve, eat, clean up and get to the next class, the time crunch to get everyone in and out of the lunch room can be a bit of a challenge. 

“It’s a positive for the kids. It’s a positive for our food program. We just need to look at how we can make it work a little better and streamline it a bit,” said Henning Principal Thomas Williams.

Williams said the idea of a second breakfast stemmed from a request from students to bring back a snack option each day. A few years ago the school district unveiled a snack option that was offered to students on a cash basis. Students could purchase things like donuts, granola bars and other healthy food options on a portable cart during a passing period each day. The student request was brought forward to the school board.

“The students wanted us to bring back a snack opportunity,” said Williams. “I said if this is something they wanted the students should be the ones to bring this forward.”

Photo by Chad Koenen
A group of Henning students check out the contents of a new bag breakfast that is served every morning at the school.

While the previous snack program was popular for students, it also had some things that needed to be adjusted. For example, students would oftentimes eat the snack during class since they had a limited amount of time to pass from class to class. It was also on a cash basis, so students who could not afford to purchase some of the items on the cart were unable to participate in the program.

As a result, the district took a long look at how it could take a popular program, make some minor changes and make it more effective for students and staff alike. The idea was to essentially offer a bag breakfast during a longer break in the morning. Since one free breakfast is offered to all Henning students each day, those who have not eaten breakfast in the school that day can pick up the bag breakfast for free of charge. Students who already ate breakfast at school can simply charge their school lunch account to pay for the second chance breakfast.

“(The idea was) can we make it available to the kids and two can we do something to make it work where it wasn’t cash based and would be available to everyone.”

Henning Principal Thomas Williams

While the program has been popular for students so far, the second chance breakfast is only a pilot program for the second semester. In order to make the program work and not extend the school day, a few minutes was taken from each period in order to provide for the 11 minute second chance breakfast and an additional minute of passing time in-between classes. Williams said the school district and school board will weigh the pros and cons of the additional passing time and second chance breakfast as it analyzes the pilot program this spring. 

So far, the program has been a hit for students and staff alike who have been able to eat a late breakfast on the go, while sitting down for a few minutes each morning.