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More Columbia schools serving breakfast in the classroom

Thursday, May 17, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:50 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Blue Ridge Elementary School qualifies for Provision 2 as part of the National School Lunch Act. Schools that qualify for Provision 2 are able to serve free breakfast or lunch to all their students regardless of their family income.

COLUMBIA — Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day.

Eating breakfast in the morning can lead to better memorization, math and reading skills, according to the Food Research and Action Center.

The breakfast program allows schools to serve breakfast to their students at free and reduced prices. 

The breakfasts are important for kids who come from low-income families, those who don't have time to eat at home in the morning or children who are not physically capable of eating when they first wake up, according to the Food Research and Action Center.

Serving breakfast at school is something that all the public schools in Columbia take advantage of, whether it's for kids who receive free and reduced-price meals or schools that fall under Provision 2 of the National School Lunch Act.

Schools that opt for Provision 2 have a large number of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. These schools are able to serve free breakfast or lunch to all their students regardless of their family income. Under Provision 2 the schools must pay back the difference between the cost of serving free meals and the federal reimbursement they receive each year.

Schools serve breakfast, but that does not ensure the children will eat it. 

To help ensure that kids are getting the food they need in the morning, some schools are serving breakfast in the classroom. 

This program started about 10 to 12 years ago, said Laina Fullum, director of nutrition services for Columbia Public Schools. 

Since then, the number of schools that serve breakfast in the classroom has grown.

There are about 30 public schools in the district, and nine of them qualify under Provision 2. Five of those nine — Blue Ridge Elementary, Derby Ridge Elementary, Parkade Elementary, West Boulevard Elementary and Lange Middle schools — serve breakfast in the classroom.

Factors that allow schools to serve breakfast in the classroom are the size of the cafeteria and the number of children trying to eat breakfast. 

Some school cafeterias are not big enough for all the children to eat in a certain amount of time, Fullum said.

The schools must also fall under Provision 2 to serve breakfast in the classroom because that means all students are able to receive food. Schools that do not fall under Provision 2 cannot serve breakfast in the classroom because not all students have paid or qualify for the meals. 

Blue Ridge Elementary School, one of the first to serve breakfast in the classroom, leaves the decision up to each teacher, Principal Timothy Majerus said. 

It's a "calming start to the day" and a "community building activity in the classroom," he said. 

"I do encourage them to do that," Majerus said. About six out of 19 classrooms participate, he said, and the others eat breakfast in the cafeteria. 

Another two schools will qualify for Provision 2 starting next school year. These schools are Douglass High School and the Center of Responsive Education. 

Now that Douglass High School will qualify, breakfast in the classroom is something the school is working toward.

The program would fit with next school year's "emphasis on healthy living and wellness," Principal Eryca Neville said. 

While this is a "work in progress," Neville said there is talk of collaborating with the PedNet Coalition and Metro Rotary again to work on the Douglass Bike Project

The school is also continuing to collaborate with Sam Robinson, director of Healthy Community Initiatives for the PedNet Coalition.

The remaining four schools that qualify under Provision 2 but do not serve breakfast in the classroom are Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary, Benton Elementary, Cedar Ridge Elementary and New Haven Elementary.

Benton is able to serve a free breakfast to all its students but serves it in the lunchroom so there is less disruption for the teachers when they are starting class, Kimberly Kelty, Benton's secretary, said. 

When they are done eating, the students will go to their classroom "ready to learn," Kelty said.

Serving breakfast in the cafeteria makes the classroom "more of a learning environment," she said. It also "minimizes trash."

Supervising editor is John Schneller.


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Comments

Corey Parks May 17, 2012 | 7:29 a.m.

I was glad to see the option of orange juice or white milk instead of the normal high sugar chocolate or vanilla/strawberry but then you see the chocolate cereal that adds no nutritional value at all. Oatmeal and fruit and yogurt with granola would be a lot better for them.

(Report Comment)
Nicole Gerdemann May 17, 2012 | 3:13 p.m.

My kiddo attends West Boulevard, and I wish he got to eat breakfast in his classroom in the morning, but West has it set up that they have to eat in the cafeteria. They would not be as rushed if they got to eat in the classroom in the morning.

I wish that the school district only provided 100% juice or white milk for the children. I was glad to find out that the milk that our school serves does not contain high fructose corn syrup, but I feel that they should not have daily access to the chocolate or strawberry milk. when I go to my son's school for lunch, that is all that the kids choose. very rare that they choose white milk. I think that it would be best to flavored milk as an option only one or two schools days a month as a special treat.

(Report Comment)
Sally Willis May 17, 2012 | 3:55 p.m.

@ Cory, Oh no Cory, you have to look a little closer at the picture of Emma Goodman eating her bowl of chocolate cereal. She is enjoying it with her chocolate milk. What better way to start your day than with a double shot of sugar filled chocolate?

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene May 17, 2012 | 4:11 p.m.

This is why I feed my children before they leave the house. Some eat again at school if they have time but at least they will not be hungry if they don't have time.
School is for learning, home is for nurturing.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 18, 2012 | 4:05 a.m.

Nicole Gerdemann wrote:

"I was glad to find out that the milk that our school serves does not contain high fructose corn syrup"

Few, if any, flavored milks do. It is also urban legend that there is anything particularly bad about high fructose corn syrup compared to sugar. Both of them wind up as exactly the same thing once they are absorbed by the body. The problem is generally that we get too many calories from sugar, not what form those calories are in.

It saddens me that even with WIC and food stamp programs, some parents can't seem to give their children breakfast. This doesn't bode well for other parental involvement, to the child's detriment.
DK

(Report Comment)
Nicole Gerdemann May 18, 2012 | 10:36 a.m.

@ Corey and Sally, so many children choose to double up on the sugar during their morning breakfasts at school. When passing through the cafeteria at my son's school, so many choose chocolate milk to go with their Coco Puffs or other cereal. It should not be offered as an option.

@ Cheyenne, unfortunately so many children do not come from nuturing homes. So many come from homes that do not have parents concerned about the nutritional, mental or physical health and well being of their child(ren).

(Report Comment)
Sally Willis May 18, 2012 | 12:14 p.m.

@ Mark it's true that there's not much difference in the way high fructose corn syrup and cane sugar break down in an adult, but there is still debate in the way it effects kids. I have a child who was diagnosed with A.D.H.D. and I refused to medicate my child without first seeking alternative treatments. The first thing our physician did was do a complete diet overhaul that included removing anything with high fructose corn syrup from her diet. Within a couple of weeks even her teachers were saying how improved she was. I am an avid supporter of cane sugar over high fructose corn syrup for kids myself.

(Report Comment)

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