SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Ozarks Technical Community College has launched a free Eagle Breakfast campaign for students at all six of its campuses.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Joan Barrett says the college sees many non-traditional students who are typically young, full-time workers, many of whom have children. After much research, OTC found many students were skipping breakfast just to make ends meet.
“There’s so much research that tells us [breakfast] makes for such a healthier person,” Barrett told The Heartlander. “If you have something to eat in the morning, then your brain is turned on and you are ready to attack the day.”
In early 2020 the college began talking about retention strategies and ways to better engage with students. Someone suggested providing breakfast at no cost to all students. During that summer, the college decided to launch a pilot program to see if the staff’s hypothesis was true: Would it actually help students achieve what they needed to?
By the fall of 2020, participating students from the Springfield campus were asked to take a survey about Eagle Breakfast. Barrett says grades were up, and while there may not be direct causation, she believes the free breakfasts contributed to the school’s current retention.
“We marveled. We were just so thrilled,” she said. “There was an increase in students completing courses; there was an increase of people completing courses at a C or better. These were good things. This is what we want for our students.”
Because of those positive outcomes, OTC plans to move forward with Eagle Breakfast and will now extend it to its six other locations.
Eagle Breakfast gets its name from the college’s mascot, Ozzy the Eagle.
“We really see Eagle Breakfast as a way to remove a barrier that may stop [students] from completing [school] and getting into the workforce,” OTC Chief Media Relations Officer Mark Miller said.
Campuses with kitchens will offer the privilege of warm breakfast foods such as sausage biscuits and breakfast sandwiches. Campuses without a kitchen will have options including muffins, yogurt and fruit. Eagle Breakfast also offers a slew of drinks for students.
Students must swipe their OTC student ID in order to receive a free breakfast. Ozzy the Eagle logos mark which items are eligible Eagle Breakfast items.
Barrett says emergency COVID-19 pandemic funding helped launch the breakfast campaign. Although the emergency funds expire in May of 2023, Barrett said the benefits brought to students by the breakfast are too positive to let go, and that OTC will make room in its budget to continue the program.
“We try to make the best of some really tough times, and I’m so pleased for our students that it is working so well.”