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Old 04-03-2011, 02:22 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Default Schools turn to breakfast to boost academics

This made me so angry when I read it. Remember, most of these students parents get food stamps, and often WIC and Welfare and huge amounts of food supplies from the food banks. They eat better than many of our citizens. Yet, the taxpayers are now paying for food service to their desks and to those who are too lazy to get up and make their own breakfast. Go to the web page and look at the "over weight" kids who these people are catering to.

Schools turn to breakfast to boost academics
The Press-Enterprise
For third-grader Viviana Marin, getting to school on time used to mean skipping breakfast.
"When you're in a hurry, it doesn't give you time to eat and stuff," the 9-year-old said. On a recent Friday, though, she nibbled on an egg and sausage frittata at her desk just after the 8 a.m. school bell rang.
A free breakfast in the classroom is now part of every school day for the 728 students at Good Hope Elementary School, situated in a rural area west of Perris. Student volunteers deliver pre-warmed plastic-wrapped goodies to classmates to eat during the first 10 minutes of instruction.
Breakfast in the classroom is part of a statewide movement to boost the number of students eating the crucial morning meal. Studies show that children who routinely eat a well-balanced breakfast do better academically and have fewer tardies and absences. At some low-performing schools such as Good Hope, administrators also hope better morning nutrition eventually will translate into higher test scores.
In 2010, Good Hope was the lowest-scoring school in the Perris Elementary School District and among the lowest-performing campuses in Riverside County.
In addition to lunch, serving breakfast before school is common on Inland campuses from Colton to Corona. But districts are increasingly looking to deliver breakfast during the school day, given the low student turnouts to breakfast before the bell.
Jose Herrera, 12, a sixth-grader at Good Hope Elementary School in Perris, munches on a breakfast burrito during his first class recently. The school hopes the nutritional boost, part of a statewide trend, will translate into better academic performance.
Similar to Good Hope, Joshua Circle Elementary School in Hesperia has started delivering breakfast to classrooms. Beaumont schools may do the same, as well as offer easy-to-eat meals and snacks during breaks.
Good Hope Principal Margaret Briggs said serving breakfast at students' desks is no magic pill and probably won't propel the school's test scores to 800 -- the state target -- within the next year. One of the school's biggest challenges is that 60 percent of its students are learning English, according to state figures for the 2009-10 school year. Eighty-seven percent of students qualify for free or discounted meals, which indicates their families struggle financially.
"There's no one thing that's the key, but breakfast in the classroom is part of the answer," Briggs said. "The nutrition is a big piece, but it also brings a good feeling in the classroom. It creates a family atmosphere. It's important that students feel safe and like a community. All of that, that helps with learning."
Within the first week of classroom breakfast deliveries, the percentage of Good Hope students eating those meals jumped from about 30 percent to 95 percent.
Gena Robinson, who heads the school's cafeteria staff, said that in the program's first days, fewer students complained to the school nurse of stomachaches or hunger. Those students often are sent to the cafeteria for a mid-morning meal.
"All of that takes time away from class time," Robinson said.
Douglas Mitchell, an education professor at UC Riverside, said it's no secret that children who qualify for free or discounted lunches generally struggle academically.
Beaumont High School students line up for brunch. Beaumont Unified feeds hundreds of students breakfast and brunch each day.
"That's not to say that by having lunch or breakfast they will achieve well," Mitchell said.
Insufficient nutrition is one of the many byproducts of poverty that can hinder a students' ability to learn, Mitchell said.
"Poor children with very low-income parents may have difficulty getting adequate nutrition and health care. They may get inadequate attention to things like needing glasses or dental service," he said.
"All of these things impair a child's ability to concentrate and learn."
A 2008 Harvard University analysis of more than 102 studies shows that serving breakfast to schoolchildren boosted their alertness and resulted in better overall performance in reading, mathematics and on standardized tests.
Charles Sands, dean of the College of Allied Health at California Baptist University and an expert in public health, said there is a definite link between children doing well in school and eating a good breakfast.
"Your brain needs food and it needs it regularly," Sands said.
If a child goes 18 hours without eating -- the time between dinner and lunch the next day -- his or her brain is not going to function at capacity, Sands said.
Schools typically use state and federal funds to pay for campus meals.
Good Hope launched its program with the help of a $3,000 grant from General Mills Foodservice and $3,000 of district funds, said Jodi Yager, nutrition director for the Perris elementary district. The start-up money paid mostly for equipment: two insulated coolers on wheels and a trash bin on wheels for each of Good Hope's 35 classrooms.
The district's food and labor costs -- about $1.25 per breakfast -- stay the same whether students are fed in a classroom or cafeteria, she said.
Yager's plan is to gradually expand classroom breakfasts to all nine Perris elementary schools. At the eight schools where cafeteria breakfast is supplied during the half-hour before school, 20 to 32 percent of students take part.
Various Inland campuses are exploring other ways to offer breakfast after the morning bell. At three elementary schools in Colton, a "second-chance breakfast" is available to students during morning recess.
In addition to classroom breakfasts, the Beaumont Unified School District is considering "grab and go" meals at middle schools, no-mess food that students can eat during breaks, said Kathy Zipperstein, the district's director of nutrition services.
Beaumont High School, which has 2,331 students, served 911 breakfasts one recent day -- 162 before school and the bulk during brunch.
Teenagers tend to give themselves just enough time to wake up in the morning, get dressed and get to their first class at 7:30 a.m., Zipperstein said. That makes brunch meals much more popular, she said.
The same is true in Riverside.
Whether students don't wake up early enough or the bus is late, most aren't on campus in time for breakfast before class, said Rodney Taylor, nutrition services director for Riverside Unified School District.
"My son would rather have slept late than eat," Taylor said. "That's true of a lot of kids."
Taylor said he would like to see breakfast served during class, but cutbacks in custodial staffing and concerns about crumbs attracting ants or other vermin have blocked the idea.
But, during the week students take high-stakes standardized tests, "teachers and principals are all ordering breakfast or a snack for every kid because they know a child who's fed performs better," Taylor said. "If we know that's true, why aren't we feeding every child breakfast every day? Are we only concerned with test scores?"
Noting that laws have removed sodas, snack food and french fries from campuses, Taylor suggested legislation requiring school breakfast.
"If a kid is needy at lunch time, he's needy at breakfast," Taylor said. "Chances are if a student didn't eat breakfast at school, he didn't eat at all."
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