Teachers Dislike Breakfast in the Classroom Program, Survey Finds

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2013

An L.A. Unified program to serve breakfast in the classroom to make sure students don’t start school hungry has increased pests, created messes and cut down on instructional time, according to a teacher survey released Monday.

In an online survey conducted last month, United Teachers Los Angeles found that more than half of 729 respondents disliked the program but would support it if sanitation and time issues were resolved.

More than half said that they have seen an increase in bugs and rodents in their classrooms, and that it takes an average of 30 minutes to set up the breakfast, feed the students and clean up.

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Teachers also said that students throw away much of the food and that they have sometimes received expired food, spoiled milk and rotten fruit.

District administrators, who could not be reached for comment, have said that schools are reporting better attendance, less tardiness and fewer trips to the nurse’s office since the program was launched in 2011 by L.A. Unified, the nonprofit Los Angeles Fund for Public Education and other partners.

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Children from low-income families–who make up about 80% of L.A. Unified students–are less likely to eat breakfast, according to the California Food Policy Advocates.

{snip} Although they are eligible to eat breakfast before school in the cafeteria, some students arrive too late to do so, officials have said.

Under the program, more than 200,000 students at 274 schools are being served breakfast in the classroom. The district hopes to expand the program to 676 campuses serving more than 500,000 students in the next few years. Such an expansion could bring in an estimated $23.5 million annually in federal school meal reimbursements, Food Services Director David Binkle has said.

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