Roughly 80 percent of Schenectady’s public school children qualify for free and reduced-price meals, and while most of those do eat lunch at school, only about 20 percent bother having breakfast there. That’s not a healthy number, and may be part of the reason so many of the school district’s children are having trouble learning. A new in-class breakfast program that, courtesy of the Walmart Foundation, will be available to all students starting next year, should help put more food into empty stomachs.
Breakfast is typically a cheaper meal than lunch, and it’s possible that kids from families with “food insecurity” do provide breakfast for them before they go to school. School officials theorize that a good many of them come to school hungry but, due to scheduling conflicts, are unable to eat in the cafeteria before school.
This program will make a light breakfast available to all students at the start of the day; in primary grades it will be brought to the classroom, while middle-schools will obtain theirs at a “grab ‘n’ go kiosk” and high schoolers will get theirs from vending machines, using a PIN similar to what they currently use to “buy” lunch. All will have time to eat, in the classroom, before their lessons get under way.
Obviously, not all kids will want to eat breakfast at school, while some (who shouldn’t) may want to eat a second breakfast. In other words, some details will need to be ironed out. But the framework is a good one, and thanks to the generous grant, it’s in place, with the money mostly being furnished to take care of equipment and supplies associated with distribution.
After that’s done, the feds take over providing the actual food; so the district can do this without adding staff and/or burdening local taxpayers. At that price, it’s got to be at least worth trying.