Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Myth Busting

Dragon knitter had some interesting things to say in yesterday's comments. If you aren't right in on the industry, you may not know:

DK: my school feeds breakfast to anyone who comes, and not just low-income kids. i don't take advantage of it because of a few factors: 1. there are 700 kids in my sons' school, and the lines can be insane. 2. it's not enough food for 2 teenage boys. 3. i can afford to feed my kids, i'd like to leave the money/food there for those who can't.

SS (me):That's called Universal Breakfast, and if the free/reduced (kids qualifying for subidized meals) population reaches a certain point, it isn't taking money or food away. The schools actually qualify for additional funding if the program is available.

"Affording" or not doesn't really enter in. The whole idea is to get kids to eat.

From the PA Hunger Action Center (an advocacy group): "Multiple research studies have shown that children have the best chance for academic success if they start their days with nutritious breakfasts. While breakfast is traditionally consumed before leaving home in the morning, other factors - such as parents' work schedules and children's lack of appetite early in the morning - often interfere. Educators have found that providing a school-based breakfast is a cost effective way to enhance the learning environment."

SS: The meals offered in schools that participate in USDA food programs must meet certain guidelines for providing a level of calories and nutrients that is adequate. It might not be "enough for teenage boys," but nutritionally, it is adequate.

DK: although, i do have to say i think they're trying to starve my boys. the school lunches are completely inadequate! and they charge an arm & a leg for extras!

SS: Well, see above, the meals contain the proper percentage of nutrients and calories or food service doesn't get reimbursed. And they aren't going to let that happen!

This is all leading up to our Governor's School Breakfast Initiative for PA:

". Schools in which low-income students comprise 20 percent or more of enrollment would be required to offer School Breakfast. This is consistent with what Ohio and New Jersey already require. In Maryland the minimum is 15 percent and in New York there is no minimum.

". Schools that implement a breakfast program would receive a 20 - 40 percent increase in state supplemental payments through the National School Lunch Program. This ensures that the school breakfast program does not increase local costs for taxpayers.

". Schools that adopt the PA Department of Education's Guidelines for Nutritional Standards for Competitive Foods in Pennsylvania Schools would receive an additional increase in state supplemental payments through theNational School Lunch Program. This additional supplement will ensure that school food service departments can pay their costs, notwithstanding the loss of revenue some may experience after introducing healthier foods in vending machines and lunchtime a la carte offerings."

All Sheepie can say is: It's about time!

If you live in Pennsylvania, contact your members of the General Assembly (State Representative and Senator) and tell them that the kids are counting on them!


They serve breakfast in our school district too. I actually have to make sure my son gets to school after they finish serving breakfast or the little fart will eat twice. I make sure he eats before school, but if he gets there while they are serving, he will go for another bowl of cereal. It took me a while to figure out why his lunch money was running out so fast. Kids! lol
they don't charge for breakfast here.
and yes, when sean was in 6th grade, he was getting breakfast at daycare, followed up by breakfast at school, lol. no weight problems, lol, he was just at that age.

and while it may be "nutritionally appropriate," the lunches are not satisfying. i've seen them. i've seen 8 year olds eat more. (my 8 year olds, but still). the one meal i saw was a small hamburger bun with about 2 tbsp of pizza meat, & 1 slice of cheese, ONE tritator (i can remember getting 2 or 3 when i was in school ), and approximately 1/3 cup of frozen strawberries. and the kids' choice of milk or juice.

do you know what calorie count they're making this a percentage of? you know, like if it's a 2000 calorie diet, how many of those calories should be lunch? i've also noticed that the lunch menus are often high in fat (see above menu). i know the goal is to get the kids to eat, but please! i get more satisfaction out of a can of chunky chicken noodle than my sons get from their school lunch (and they would too), and not nearly so much fat. just my 2 cents worth, lol
I teach at a high school in Dayton, OH, and all our schools serve free breakfast to any and all. The (big) boys in my 1st period class often straggle in with the offerings. They might not be what WE would serve or wish all children ate, but milk and juice are included, and it is something. I do see a difference in my students' ability to focus and stay on task when they have eaten. When they miss breakfast, they can be anxious and irritable, and unable to learn.

The majority of our students live in poverty (close to 90%). The majority of them also qualify for a free or reduced lunch. It takes a lot of money to feed all those kids, and in general, I am fairly impressed with both the quality and the variety our students are offered each day. I will sometimes buy the same lunch the students get, and it's okay. Not great, but I'm satisfied. Food service has a limited budget and relies heavily on frozen, canned and pre-made items. It is often the student's choice to drink pop and eat fries and cookies rather than take advantage of the more nutritional (if less attractive) offerings. My students always seem to have money for the pop machine, but not for an extra side of veggies. Kids are kids, right? But our schools do try very hard to get something nutritious into all our students, every day.

Interesting topic and information!
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