Should schools be required to offer classroom breakfasts?
SPOKANE, Wash.—United Way is pushing to make school breakfasts mandatory in Washington to help feed kids who otherwise might go without.
The Spokane Public School District is made up of 60% of free and reduced price eligible students. The District offers a breakfast program before school. Yet, some kids do not show up for breakfast and go to class hungry.
A United Way proposal suggests that students should be allowed eat in class. If the new idea makes its way to legislature, parents and teachers could start seeing less food in the cafeteria and more in the classroom.
About 100 students at Lincoln Heights Elementary school qualify for reduced price breakfast. The school opens up 20 minutes before school starts so students can start their day with full stomachs.
“We can tell especially when kids are having a bad morning… that's one of the first questions we ask is what did we have for breakfast,” said Lincoln Heights Principal Nancy Lopez-Williams.
“One of the challenges we run into is getting kids there. If they are anything like me and they’re rushing off the last five minutes they get there just before the bell... sometimes students don't get breakfast,” said Doug Wordell with Nutrition Services Spokane Schools.
United Way is recommending schools be required by law to start offering breakfast after the bell rings. Some teachers said students are not learning if they are hungry.
“Their blood sugars get down, they're not working as good. That snack just really helps boost them in the morning,” said kindergarten teacher Brandy Mather.
Spokane’s Nutrition Services tried experimenting with breakfast in the classroom in the past. It came with success and challenges.
“Making sure the support staff, the custodians were on board. Were there enough garbage cans? Were they picked up? What did you do when the milk spilled? Did you have enough equipment to clean the carpet or floors? Logistics in the building, those are the big issues,” said Wordell.
Students would potentially eat at desks in the ten to twelve minutes during attendance. Lincoln Heights teachers said they would strive to make sure the extra munching would not disrupt class time if mandatory.
“We're ready to rock n roll at 9:00 so we want our students to be ready as well. Potentially three minutes could be 10 or 15 minutes of loss of instructional time,” said Lopez-Williams.
United Way recommends breakfast after the bell be mandatory by the State in schools with a majority of students eligible for free and reduced price meals by 2015.
“Clear routines and procedures would be necessary just to make sure we have a quick breakfast and that we get back to learning or direct their focus and be able to clean up afterwards,” said Lopez-Williams.