Berkeley breakfast

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.

About Joanne


  1. BadaBing says:

    Can we have them delivered to the kids’ homes? Hey, it’s Berekely.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Palo Alto tried organic. I cautioned the district to make sure no claims of organic being healthier were made. Organic didn’t pass muster. What a scam. Great business if you have no scruples, though.

  3. See, this is where everyone misses the stunningly insightful nature of the Constitution.

    By baking a great deal of independence into the various divisions of government even a bunch of self-involved dummies like those running the Berkeley school district serve several useful purposes.

    First off, there’s the entertainment value. You can be sure if this makes national distribution there’ll be some decent material from the talk show brigade.

    Second, there’s the emotional benefit. Imagine how many people will have their self-esteem boosted by comparing their own shortcomings to those on display by the Berkeley school district board. With no effort beyond reading the article you can feel quite smug about your intelligence.

    Third, it’s only the money of the Berkeley school district that’s being squandered on bleeding-edge trendiness. As the jokes and criticism receed, it’ll be that much tougher for some other, wealthy school board to indulge themselves at the expense of the tax payers, parents and kids.

  4. “Free breakfast.” Are we telling the children that a breakfast someone else has paid for is “free?” The next thing you know we’ll be telling them that there is a “free lunch.”