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An afternoon pick-me-up at WHS

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For some students at Woodbury High School weekdays begin as early as 7 a.m. and those with afternoon activities might not get home until well into the evening.

For students who spend more than 12 hours at the school, finding something to reenergize them in the afternoon is a must, which is where the District 833 After Burner program comes in.

After Burner, which is offered through District 833 Nutrition Services, allows students to purchase healthy snacks and light meals in the cafeteria after school from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

"The demand on students' time is unbelievable," said Wendy Tracy, director of Nutrition Services, "so it's important to have something to energize them throughout the day."

After Burner first went into effect at Park High School during the the 2013-14 school year and then it was expanded to East Ridge High School during the 2014-15 school year.

Woodbury High School started offering After Burner last week.

"I'm so excited that we can finally get it going here at Woodbury High School," said Mary Panek, WHS cook manager. "It's a nice addition."

New offerings

It was actually the activities director at Park who initiated the discussion of offering after school snacks to students two years ago, Tracy said, because he saw the need.

"It's surprising how many students are in the building from 7 in the morning until 9 or 10 at night," Tracy said. "There was a need for students to have access for some healthier options that would sustain them."

In addition to snack items, such as yogurts, bagels, baked chips, nutrition bars, string cheese, sunflower seeds and fresh fruits and vegetables, After Burner also offers salads and cold deli sandwiches, depending on what is leftover from the day's lunches.

After Burner will also offer more meal-like options for students, such as hot sandwiches or breadsticks.

"Anything that would be easier to eat," Tracy said. "While some students can get by with a yogurt and a bagel, others really want meals as well."

Additionally, After Burner will have a number beverages available such as water, fruit juices, Gatorade, smoothies, milk, V8 Fusion and Naked juices.

"The most important thing is to give them nutritious options," Tracy said.

After Burner adheres to all Smart Snacks regulations Tracy said.

On average, After Burner offerings will range in prices from 60 cents up to $2.50.

Tracy said After Burner has proven to be a success at Park and East Ridge, which see 30 to 50 kids utilizing the service daily on average, which is why Nutrition Services decided to expand the program at WHS.

Panek said rolling out After Burner required a lot of organization on the part of kitchen staff, specifically in shifting hours in order to make sure that someone is able to staff the cafeteria after school.

"Then it's just getting the products in and lining up what the kids will like," she said.

After Burner will only be open until 3:30 p.m. after school, Panek said, because that's when most students are headed off to their afternoon activities.

Tracy said the district is exploring the option of expanding After Burner to middle schools, but for now they are just going to focus on providing students with convenient, healthy foods after school.

"It's important for students to energize themselves for their next event or activity," Panek said, "and it's great that they can now be energized with the food that we serve."

"We don't want them running across the street to McDonald's," Tracy said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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