Monday, May 24, 2010

Breakfast in Class

By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook

Are D.C. Public Schools starting breakfast in classrooms?

We got an automated phone call over the weekend from my daughter's elementary school--H.D. Cooke--announcing that beginning today, breakfast would be served in the classrooms at 8:45. According to the call, kids would still be able to get breakfast in the cafeteria starting at 8:00 am, but then we got an e-mail from the PTA president on the school listserv saying breakfast would no longer be served in the cafeteria. So we have confusion.

Why is this happening? That part is unclear. There was no announcement from the school system but I have sent questions to the press office. Breakfast in classrooms had been one aspect of "Healthy Schools" legislation recently approved by the D.C. Council. But the new law has not gone into effect yet.

Child nutrition and food access advocates have been pressing for breakfast to be offered in D.C. classrooms as a way of making sure that kids are well fed in the morning while attending school. As I learned from my recent visit to the schools in Berkeley, CA, this method of serving breakfast can also generate huge amounts of funds from government meal programs. In Berkeley, the participation rate for classroom breakfast is 96 percent. Government subsidy payments for breakfast help pay the extra cost of making lunch from scratch.

Stay tuned. I will be reporting more on this classroom breakfast program here in the District of Columbia.


  1. What can we expect next year at the elementary school level in terms of these breakfasts in the classroom? How is it to be implemented? Can one opt out? What is to be served? I heard breakfast this week at my kid's school was a pizza bagel and a Hostess-style apple pie treat as the fruit.

  2. Liz, I don't think we know yet what we can expect next year. I am trying to get clearance to cover the breakfast in classroom and take photos. What I'm hearing from parents is they've ditched the hot breakfast in favor of cereal, ditched flavored milk in favor of plain milk. But so far they've kept the Pop-Tart. That may be the apple treat you heard about. Not Hostess (I've never seen that), but probably Pop-Tart.

    Parents need to band together and make their voices heard with the chancellor if they want to influence the food.