AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An award was given to a local school district for going above and beyond.

The Austintown Local School District has won the Breakfast and Beyond Challenge, making sure students start off a great day with a healthy breakfast.

“Our whole district has done a phenomenal job in the last year or two, really serving the kids over the course of the pandemic,” said Alexis Weber, food service director for Austintown Local Schools.

The Breakfast and Beyond Superstar Award was given to Austintown Local Schools for its innovative program to make breakfast and lunch available for all students. The district was honored for the unique program and the different ways it offers food throughout the day.

“We’ve just really tried to increase the accessibility for students and we’ve seen the increase in participation,” Weber said.

This is the first time Austintown Local Schools has been able to qualify to operate a free breakfast and lunch program. The pandemic gave the district flexibility to implement the program.

“Our district, we were able to take advantage of that and make sure everybody had access to breakfast and lunch and we didn’t skip a beat. We increased our production, we served more meals and everybody got fed,” Weber said.

Austintown Local Schools was one of 22 school districts to receive the award.

Weber says they have created a meal program that fits with the busy school schedule.

“In our elementary school, for example, we have done a grab n’ go breakfast. The kids are eating in the classroom,” she said.

Weber says they also serve “second chance breakfast,” allowing students to get breakfast up until lunchtime, keeping every student fueled for the day.

“Our meal counts have increased. We are here at the elementary school because they are serving over 40 percent more breakfast every day,” she said.

Austintown Food Services serves almost 4,000 meals a day to the students around the district.

“We have over 50 employees in the food service department here in Austintown that serve our kids every day,” Weber said.

Friday is also National Lunch Hero Day, where we recognize all the hard work those in food services do for our students.