At a Berkeley elementary school, students get a free gourmet breakfast served in their classrooms.
Fourth-grader Jovanni Cardenas maneuvered a red Radio Flyer wagon, laden with carmelized onion and fingerling potato focaccia, down the hall of LeConte Elementary in Berkeley.
He has the vaunted title of “snack passer,” helping deliver free, healthful breakfasts to the desks of each of the school’s 354 students. It is the latest such effort in a school district that is a national leader in the fight against childhood obesity and hunger.
Because the district is in Berkeley, the food that began rolling out at LeConte this week has to measure up to some of the toughest school food guidelines in the nation: no hydrogenated oils, no dyes or preservatives, no refined sugars, no bovine growth hormones and absolutely no genetically altered “Frankenfood.”
Berkeley already serves breakfast in the cafeteria, but many students don’t show up early enough to eat it. Now students are using class time to eat breakfast.
The system has a few kinks. Some kids eat at home and decline the meal, the kindergartners make a mess that takes a long time to clean up, and some of the offerings, like onions in the morning, are a little too “Chez Panissey” for kids, district spokesman Mark Coplan said.
Also, kids are being taught that “organic” equals “healthy,” which isn’t true.