Pilot program results from Wellness Committee advocacy
Students at Gault Elementary were treated to the most important meal of the day as Santa Cruz City Schools Food Services debuted a pilot “Breakfast in the Classroom” program on September 6th. Moments after the morning bell rang, milk crates filled with whole wheat bagels, cream cheese, apples, and low-fat milk were delivered to Kindergarten and 1st grade classes, while 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade class volunteers picked up crates in the cafeteria to deliver to their classrooms. Students enjoyed a breakfast together while teachers took attendance and went over the day’s schedule.
Breakfast in the Classroom, also known as Universal Breakfast, is a federally reimbursed meal program that serves every student a morning meal free of charge. Government studies and foundation research have proven that students who eat school breakfast at the start of the school day show a general increase in math and reading scores as well as improvements in their speed and memory in cognitive tests. According to the Food Research and Action Center in Washington D.C., schools that provide breakfast in the classroom at no cost to all students report decreases in discipline and psychological problems, visits to school nurses and tardiness; increases in student attentiveness and attendance; and generally improved learning environments.
The Santa Cruz City Schools Wellness Committee has long advocated for Breakfast in the Classroom. Established programs in California and locally in the Pajaro Valley have shown improvements in student achievement and, with the ability to take advantage of program funding, a neutral or positive impact on district finances. The Wellness Committee toured schools with successful breakfast programs three years ago and subsequently laid the groundwork to bring the program to Santa Cruz schools. Cynthia Hawthorne, Santa Cruz City Schools Board President welcomed the debut. “Hunger and food insecurity are a growing issue in all of our schools. Breakfast in the Classroom will allow every child a chance to start their school day with the nourishment they need to achieve academic success,” Hawthorne said.
“Breakfast in the Classroom has been a primary goal of the Wellness Committee and SCCS board trustees since 2007 and we are pleased that we have finally made this concept a reality for the students at Gault school.” – Cynthia Hawthorne, SCCS Board President
The pilot at Gault is intended to streamline systems, gather feedback from teachers and staff, and fine tune the menu before expanding to the other elementary schools and middle schools sometime in the next year.