MASON — Coffeehouse culture seems to be exploding across the United States, particularly among teenagers and young adults, and now students at Wahama High School will have to travel no farther than the school cafeteria to get a morning “cup of joe.”
The school became the first in the state to open a hot beverage bar this week. Seasonal flavored coffee, tea and hot chocolate will be offered to the students at self-serve, industrial Keurig machines. But if the teens are looking for a jolt of caffeine to get them through the morning, they won’t find it there.
Beverly Glaze, registered dietitian and Director of Child Nutrition for Mason County Schools, said the state child nutrition policy will still be upheld. The hot drinks will be decaffeinated and a natural sweetener, stevia, will be used in place of sugar.
The modifications didn’t seem to bother the students on the first day of the beverage station though.
Senior student Madison Grinstead said she really liked the idea of having the beverage station available, and added she really couldn’t tell the difference with the altered coffee.
“If you put the right amount of flavoring in it, it’s really good,” Grinstead said.
Abby Pauley, a freshman, agreed. Taking her coffee with both creamer and sweetener, Pauley said there is nothing not to like because “it’s free and it’s at school.”
There is a reason behind the new drinks, however.
Glaze said she had seen where Keurig was offering the industrial machines free to schools. Wahama, she stated, was chosen to receive the first four because of the students’ low participation in the breakfast program. Knowing breakfast is an important meal for good behavior and learning, Glaze said she is hoping this will entice the teens, and the numbers will go up. No student is allowed to have the beverages alone, but must have food also.
Glaze said she will be surveying the students to see what types of drinks and flavors they would like to have. For the first days, French vanilla and hazelnut are offered, as well as green tea. She said she is hoping to offer seasonal drinks, like pumpkin, in the fall, as well as hot chocolate. For now, coffee and tea will be the selections.
The drink stations will eventually be installed at Point Pleasant and Hannan high schools, as well. Each drink machine will have its own permanent water line and will provide a continuous supply of hot water.
“We need to keep up with the times,” Glaze said. “It’s an innovative way to get our kids involved in the food service. They are our customers.”
Mason County schools offer both free breakfast and lunch to all students.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.