"Free Breakfast"....I have a problem with this.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by PEteacher07, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    Oct 27, 2013

    Most of the elementary schools in my district are on the "free breakfast" program now. THe kids are served breakfast in their classrooms at no cost for them. Sounds awesome right? I don't think so.

    1. They tried to pitch it to us as "It's for the kids" when they came to explain how it works. Give me a break. The food service company get's re-imbursed by the government for every breakfast they serve so of course they are going to say it's for the kids. THey failed to mention the getting money part.

    2. They say it has to meet certain nutritional guidelines. Sounds healthy right? One day last week they served "Mini Pancakes" that had a total of 14 grams of sugar, the fat free chocolate milk has 18 grams of sugar, and the 4 oz of orange juice had 13 grams of sugar. That is 45 grams of sugar. Please explain to me how that is healthy.

    3. Since the breakfast meets supposed nutritional guidelines and the funding is all through the government, the kids have to take everything offered, or they take none of it. So let's say a child ate breakfast at home and comes to school and thinks, "Hey, I might like that banana." They can't take just the banana. They have to take EVERYTHING. The portion size is the same for PreK all the way up to 5th grade. Four year olds don't eat near the amount of food that 10 year olds. Nor should they. But if you offer a kid pancakes or a cinnamon roll, do you think they are gonna turn it down?

    4. Here is what I beleive is the worst part of the whole thing. We have been told that we are not supposed to save food that the kids don't eat. Fresh and un-touched bananas, apples, milk, cereals are to be thrown in the trash. It kills me to see this food going to waste. I think we should be able to save the food and send it home with children who may not have much. Or send the food to poorer schools. Or send it to the food bank. I work with 3rd graders in the morning for intervention and there is food being thrown away that could be saved. I would be interested to know how much is being thrown away by PreK, Kinder, and 1st Grade.

    My school is middle class/upper middle class. I can't tell you what percentage of our children eat breakfast at home, but I would say most of them do. We are not really a school where kids are struggling to have their needs met. So what concerns me as a PE teacher is that kids are being over-fed. They already ate at home, and now they are eating again an hour later?

    With all this sugar and calories they are consuming from this breakfast plus any food they are eating at home, it is way more than they need.

    I don't want to cause a huge problem or uproar, but the food being wasted is just so much. Multiply that by 40+ schools. I would be curious if parents even know this is happening.

    I don't even know if I shoudl do something or just keep my mouth shut. But at least I got to blow off some steam.
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I couldn't possibly agree more on every point. It infuriates me!
     
  4. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Oct 27, 2013

    My school (low-income) has a similar breakfast program. A typical breakfast is a donut, string cheese (for protein I'm guessing), chocolate milk, and apple juice. Sugar bomb! Even if the kids aren't getting breakfast at home, NO ONE should be eating that for breakfast. Thinking about eating all of that makes my stomach hurt!

    Is Michelle Obama working on this? I know she already outlawed croutons :rolleyes:
     
  5. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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  6. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I partially agree. We started breakfast in the classroom at my school this year. My school is over 90% free or reduced lunch. I have seen a big difference in my kids' attention and stamina before lunch since we started serving breakfast. Many of my students were not getting breakfast previously.

    I've never heard of a middle/ upper class school being part of this program. That makes no sense to me.

    I do strongly agree with the wasted food. That really infuriates me. My coworker has started taking fruit home so it's not thrown away. And I also really agree with the sugar content. We never have donuts and rarely have pancakes (and they don't have syrup with them), but I know many of our breakfasts are very high in sugar.
     
  7. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Oct 27, 2013

    We give free breakfast to anyone in our school (students, teachers, custodians, admin, substitutes) 3 days a week. Our program works as such:

    We always have cheesestrings, cereal and milk, juice, fruit and granola bars. Take as many or as few as you like.

    Tuesdays, we serve toast with your choice of butter, jam or cheez whiz. Usually on these days we also have muffins.

    Wednesdays is a hot breakfast done by our cafeteria. Sometimes it's eggs, sometimes pancakes, sometimes a breakfast sandwich of some sort.

    Thursdays is grilled cheese.

    You don't have to participate if you don't want to. You can participate every day if you'd like, or only when you're hungry. Often, you'll see teachers and students sitting together over breakfast, chatting, etc. I don't participate often but if I'm running late and didn't have time at home, I will. Or, if they're serving the breakfast sandwiches. They're pretty awesome.

    I think by doing it that way, we ensure that those kids who are coming to us hungry can eat without being stigmatized. If they take two or three (or more) granola bars with their breakfast to have later in the day, they can. They can also come back for seconds, provided we have enough.

    It works well.

    ETA - this is at a high school
     
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I also have major issues with the school breakfast program as it currently exists... though all too often, the suggestion I hear is to scrap it, rather than fix it. I think the current system (flaws and all) is better than not existing, though I agree that it desperately needs to be improved. This seems to be a problem with school food in general though, not just breakfast. I don't understand how it is such a pervasive problem... I learned from six years of working in nursing home kitchens that it is definitely possible for low-skill workers to make palatable and reasonably healthy food quickly for large groups of people.
     
  9. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Oct 27, 2013

    I largely agree, but I'd say that there are still probably kids at many schools who wouldn't otherwise eat breakfast if not for the program. I support the whole "enter your number and order if you want" method whereby kids who can afford it pay for it, but it doesn't cause a scene by identifying kids who can or can't. I do realize each district is different and this may not be how it is everywhere.

    So, yes - portions are a problem, food type is a problem, money/waste is a problem, but the need is still real for many students, so I think it's a matter of refining or reforming rather than removing.
     
  10. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I was just talking to a friend about our breakfast program yesterday! I have actually told my principal that I will never be "for" the breakfast program that we are running it. We don't even follow the food guidelines that the school district has set up. Our cook quit (thankfully) and can you believe the breakfasts that the school secretary organizes are way healthier?!
     
  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 27, 2013

    I think free breakfast can be a good thing. I do agree though with all the points you made. The way it is done at your school is wrong in so many ways. Possibly one of your ideas will get through.

    We had a lot of bad ideas imposed on us for free breakfast at first. Some of these ideas have been dropped. Don't give up hope...it can work.
     
  12. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    We have free lunch and breakfast for all students. They get lots of cereal & whole grain breakfast pizza & Poptarts. The middle school kids are still starving by lunch, and they complain about the small lunch portions. Unopened leftover food gets placed on a table. Kids take what they want. We are high poverty. Kids always get it. I have one who loads up every morning. He ate three cups of yogurt Friday morning. That's in addition to his regular meal.
     
  13. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Yes, the food program needs a lot of upgrading. I once had the school prepare breakfast for toddlers in my PS program. The parents were teens going to summer school. The day they served chocolate milk and Cocoa Puffs, the parents came unglued. They wrote a letter explaining nutrition to the head of the program. We got great food for the rest of the summer.
     
  14. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    I like the idea of putting all the unopened food out for the kids. I have worked in some programs that do that. I have also worked in programs that have the kitchen hovering over the children to make sure the food gets thrown away. I can't imagine that is the intent of the regulations.
     
  15. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    My school is >95% free lunch and breakfast. Often, the meals they receive at school are the closest thing to nutrition that they get all day. I have seen kids start acting out every Friday, because they know they won't eat much over the weekend. If one of my car riders or walkers arrives at school too late to eat breakfast at school, I have (low sugar, because I'm diabetic) granola bars in my classroom. They aren't fancy, but they are filling.
     
  16. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 27, 2013

    The kids have to qualify for free lunch at my school. Otherwise they have to pay $1.00 for it. The rules for free lunch are the same as your school. They have to get everything, unless they prove they are allergic to it. We can't take anything back, even if it's not opened. Almost 50 milks were thrown away one day when I was on duty. The bad part is, most of the kids only come to the cafeteria to chit-chat, and they have to get breakfast to be in there. They get their FREE breakfast (that you and I are paying for) and then throw it straight in the garbage. Whatever. :|
     
  17. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 27, 2013

    I once had a parent drop a kid off at 10:00 am and then asked if he could still get breakfast. Ummm......no! I do NOT keep food in my room because we have a rat. We've never seen the rat, but we've seen evidence of him.

    It just kills me that some parents just don't care.
     
  18. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    The wasted food is what really bothers me. As was mentioned, a child will get the whole breakfast (because they are required to) just for the juice and throw everything else away (even though we are in a low-income area many still eat before school at home-they often don't like the foods served at school). My one class literally has a full bag of just food trash every school day-multiply that by how many classes times how many schools-that's so much just wasted.
     
  19. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    YIKES! I don't mean that late, lol! I mean that they shut down the cafeteria line at 10 minutes before 8, and school starts at 8. If a bus rider comes after the line is shut down, they still get to eat, even to the point of being late for class (excused). I mean the kids that get there before the bell, but after breakfast. Doesn't happen often, luckily.
     
  20. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 27, 2013

    My district has just rolled out free breakfast to all elementary schools in the district this year after testing it last year at one of the elementary schools with ~15% of the students with Free/Reduced Lunch (the most in the district. The rest of the schools are at or below 10%)

    Grades 1-6 get free breakfast. No breakfast in MS/HS.

    Portion size is different between the 1-4 and the 5-6 schools.

    In the 1-4 school, they serve one portion size. It's enough to fill up the kids until lunch. It's usually milk/cereal/fruit.

    The worst days are when they have syrup.
     
  21. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    wow, i thought it was just us. everyday my team and i remark to ourselves how bad the breakfasts normally are. They're either too much in terms of sugar and calories, or way way too little. Typical breakfasts for us are:

    1. Bag of mini pancakes or waffles w/syrup baked into them
    2. Trix Yogurt (whenever they serve this, they don't give fruit, so it's literally just one, teeny, tiny yogurt cup and a milk)
    3. Minature sweet potato pie (it was delicious, but for breakfast?!)
    4. Cinnamon french toast

    It also blows me how unsanitary it is to have kids eating in the classroom. We have a problem with rodents every Fall and Winter and the breakfast in classroom doesn't help.

    we def need a breakfast reform
     
  22. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    I agree with everything you said here, PEteacher.:thumb: That sounds exactly like the school I was in last year. Now add to this list that (in our district) the kids had to eat in silence and be "on task" with no talking or socialization. The teacher was responsible for distributing the food and cleaning up any messes in addition to conducting morning meeting or whatever else was scheduled for that time. And boy, the looks you'd get from the kitchen worker if the insulated storage containers weren't re-packed and put outside the door by 8:30!!!

    Granted that in the upper grades you can assign these jobs to the kids, but how about K, 1 and 2? And just to add to what you said about wasted food, there were days that I sent back all 26:eek: cartons of milk because all the kids wanted was the juice.
     
  23. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Oct 28, 2013

    We have breakfast... usually Mon: sausage biscuit, Tue: b'fast pizza (small piece), Wed: some type of pancake (the plain wheat are NASTY but the Pilsbury mini ones are yummy!), Thur: chicken biscuit, Fri: Pilsbury fruitel (sp?) or cini-mini. They get milk AND an OJ (the fruit).
     
  24. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    My daughter's district does not have this program. I wish they did.

    I agree with your points though. It's a great idea if it's done correctly.
     
  25. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    In my district, everyone gets free breakfast--regardless of their parents' income level.

    At my site, we have a free/reduced lunch rate of 96.25%. Although I don't think all of the breakfast selections are incredibly healthy, it's better than eating absolutely nothing (in my humble opinion).

    I've instructed my office staff to ask all late students whether or not they've eaten breakfast. If they haven't, they get a yogurt and granola bar to eat "on the run."
     
  26. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    How did the school even agree to this program? It sounds like the kids don´t really need it, and like you say they are being over fed.
     
  27. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Just throwing this out there- As messed up as a lot of breakfast programs are, my heart goes out to these children and the fact that their parents- for what ever reason- are possibly not feeding them breakfast at home. A shame we can't have a parenting reform too!
     
  28. thirdgradebuzz

    thirdgradebuzz Comrade

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    Our breakfast program operates just like the lunch program. Luckily it's a lot healthier than what is being described here, and the kids eat in the cafeteria before the morning bell rings. They do have those mini-pancakes one day a week, though.

    Over the summer we got free breakfast and lunch for everyone at summer school though a community program. That food wasn't quite as healthy, but it wasn't too bad. We had to throw away the extra food and milk cartons-- although one of my coworkers often took a lot of it home.
     
  29. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    We have free breakfast for all students at my school. I believe that what is not opened is reused so there isn't a lot of waste. Our breakfasts are pretty good. Today's was multigrain Cheerios and an apple. There is fairly high poverty in our student population and many of our students would not have breakfast without it.
     
  30. ATXMusic

    ATXMusic Rookie

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    We used to stock up on milk and sealed foods as well. My old school was about the same situation. They didn't eat the food in the mornings because it looked (and I'm sure it tasted) awful. Some days the food looked alright, but it was the high-sugar stuff coated in syrup. The syrup not only made the kids super hyper (followed by a crash), but it also made everyone sticky.

    We threw away hundreds of milk cartons every day. Literal hundreds. I'd estimate that one in five students threw the whole tray away before they even got to the table. Several more sat at the table before not eating.

    What a waste.
     
  31. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Parenting reform. Now that's something I could get behind!
     
  32. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    We had free breakfast at my school last year. I had 23 kids and I often threw away 12-15 full, unopened cartons of milk each morning because most of my kids didn't like milk. The cafeteria wouldn't send us less and they wouldn't take the unopened ones back, even if they'd only been out of our cooler bags at all. I think some of my kids really did need the food (we were 100% free lunch) but ours never had healthy options either. It was sugary cereal bars (not even like nutrigrain, I don't remember the brand but one bar had over 400 calories and was literally coated in course sugar), pizza bagels, thick french toast, breakfast cookies, or sausage and cheese biscuits.

    I think it's hard to find the balance between overfeeding kids and the kids who really need to be fed more. When I was younger I had breakfast at home every morning- plain cereal (wasn't allowed to have any sugary kind), fruit, and milk. I went to a "free breakfast" school and they often served things that were a whole lot tastier than what I got at home. So of course I'd eat the cinnamon bun or french toast or whatever even though I'd already eaten my healthy breakfast at home. Hopefully with healthier foods served at school this wouldn't be as big of an issue.
     
  33. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I agree with you OP. At my school, kids probably eat breakfast at home, then during the 9 & 10 o'clock hours, they are served breakfast, which is late to me to eat breakfast, but oh well. Then. they of course get fed lunch. I've worked in a few various places & I have yet to see truly healthy foods being served.
     
  34. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    Oct 29, 2013

    Like others have mentioned, for many of these kids, the free breakfast is the only breakfast they have. It may not be the healthiest breakfast at times, but at least they are eating something.

    I wish we didn't have to waste so much of it, but unfortunately, we have to, due to fraud, cost, etc. Kids have to get a full breakfast whether they want it or not, because the gov't is paying for a full breakfast for each kid, as opposed to just paying for two bananas. Like most of us, if the gov't pays for something, they want to make sure that the student gets it. We can't take it home because it is not a breakfast program for adults, but a breakfast program for kids. At most of the jobs I have worked at, we could be fired for taking food home.

    I agree, it is a lot of waste, and I wish it wasn't so. I actually used to work in a kitchen that got reimbursed for free/reduced lunch, and the amount of waste can be startling at times. Unfortunately, I don't know if there is a better system to reduce waste without having to worry about fraud...
     
  35. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Oct 30, 2013

    Unfortunately, wasted food is not limited to schools. I've heard the average family throws out about 40% of their food purchases. Restaurants, fast food places, and grocery stores waste food by the dumpster. This is the way our society is. So, when I see whole meals thrown out in schools, I try to remind myself that this is a microcosm of a wasteful society.

    That doesn't make me feel better; I'm just desensitized to it.
     

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