When we wake up in the morning, making breakfast for our kids is part of the morning routine for many of us. But not all kids are so fortunate. Sadly, thousands of kids in the Valley go to school every day hungry.
Fortunately, that is changing one step at a time. Thanks in part to United Way’s Breakfast in the Classroom program, more kids are starting their day with a nutritious meal. As a result, they’re doing better in school and not missing as many days.
“We are grateful to our donors who are able to make a one-time investment to help us launch Breakfast in the Classroom at a school, which will continue to ensure students are fed breakfast for as long as they attend that school.”
What’s unique about Breakfast in the Classroom is that a one-time donation of $4,000 ensures that breakfast will be provided to all students at a school forever! The $4,000 builds the infrastructure to provide breakfast in the classroom.
The federal government is already funding breakfast for students. In order to take advantage of it, kids must go to the cafeteria to eat before school starts. Unfortunately, many students pass because not only is there a stigma attached to it, they’d rather play with their friends. Breakfast in the Classroom ensures that all students eat together during a pre-class activity and no one is singled out.
As of August 5th, 2016, there are now 51 schools with 33,000 students participating in Breakfast in the Classroom. It takes about 10-15 minutes to serve, eat, and clean-up. During this time, many teachers incorporate morning activities such as taking attendance and giving announcements. No additional staff is required since instead of serving breakfast to students through the service line, staff packs food into hot and cold insulated food bags.
“Last year, we had breakfast in the cafeteria, but a lot of children are late to school or couldn’t get here on time for breakfast,” says Tricia Pitts, Capitol Elementary School Nurse.
“And in the morning, in my office, it’s like a madhouse because everybody’s hungry, and their tummy hurts, and they don’t feel good because they didn’t eat. And now I don’t see them.”
Even for parents who can afford breakfast, Breakfast in the Classroom takes a lot of pressure off the morning routine. “We were just more stressed,” says parent Amanda Paul. “Hurry, hurry, hurry. Now, we can kind of spend more time with the family, more, in the morning than we used to.”
Chandler’s Hartford Elementary School teacher Pamela Johnson says she was against Breakfast in the Classroom in the beginning. “Initially, I said ‘no way.’ I feared trash, damaged carpet, a waste of time. That hypothesis was wrong.” Three years later, Johnson says the breakfast program is “awesome” because she notices students have more energy, and as a result, they’re learning more.
The benefits of Breakfast in the Classroom are far reaching with students missing fewer days of school, having fewer trips to the nurse’s office, and more energy to learn! Dr. Farah Lokey says, “Breakfast, as the old adage says, is the most important meal of the day. It’s definitely brain food. Children should eat breakfast every day in order to get that brain going.”