PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) – The line in the cafeteria at D'Iberville Elementary School sometimes reaches the door. And every morning, more than 400 students eagerly reach for their breakfast-in-a-bag.
"It's good," said first grader Mattox Hart. When asked what he likes about the food, he responded, "It's healthy."
"Sausage, grits, scrambled eggs, toast and bacon, they come out of the woodworks for that," said Cafeteria Manager Rita Lowery. "We have about a seven-percent to eight-percent increase just since September, and they're still coming."
It's more than just the food that's tempting the students to give breakfast a try.
"Y'all checking your bags?" Lowery asked the students.
Tucked inside some of the bags were tickets that can be redeemed for prizes, ranging from school supplies to popular toys. The school received a grant from the American Dairy Association to purchase the treats.
Third grader Jerrell Likely was thrilled to get a set of Blendy Pens.
"I just felt something. I just got out of the cafeteria. I opened it. I said 'Wow! I'm going to use these today,'" he said.
And first grader Jocelynn Sengsiry landed the coveted prize, an autographed Saints mini helmet and poster signed by Marques Colston.
When asked what she thought about her prize, Jocelynn answered "Wow, my dad's really going to be happy. I'm putting in on my dad's shelf and he's going to say, 'Wow!'"
Adults are also excited to see children getting a hot, nutritious meal to energize their bodies and wake up their brains.
"Sadly, a lot of kids go to their first class without eating anything. You have a classroom full of kids with their stomachs growling. Their heads aren't working," said Brad Williams, Health Educator for the Mississippi Health Department. "These kids are learning breakfast is a good thing, breakfast is fun. Hopefully, that'll stick with them."
"Their eyes are lit up and they're eating," said Lowery. "They're showing off their prizes, so it's all worth it."
Lyman Elementary and Orange Grove Elementary are also sharing in the $5,000 grant to promote their breakfast programs. D'Iberville Elementary plans to use some of its award to purchase the WII fitness system and games to encourage more students to exercise.