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For the first 15 or 20 minutes of the school day, Los Angeles Unified students eat a free breakfast in their classrooms. Los Angeles Unified is expanding the program to schools where few kids are eligible for a free meal, reports KPCC. Parents say the food is loaded with sugar. Teachers resent the mess and the loss of teaching time.
For the first day of breakfast in the classroom for all students at Castle Heights Elementary Thursday, the menu included whole wheat pancakes, syrup, wildberry juice and milk.
. . . Castle Heights is in the affluent Cheviot Hills neighborhood in West Los Angeles and only 30 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch, way below the district average of 85 percent.
The school used to serve breakfast before school in the multi-purpose room to students who qualified for free or reduced-price meals. But expanding the program to every child — unless parents opt out — raises revenues because the meals are federally subsidized.
David Binkle, director of L.A. Unified’s food service division, said kids won’t lose out on instruction because teachers are required to teach while the students are eating.
“The bottom line is it’s good for children, and you can’t argue with good,” he said. The program is set to roll out to all schools in the district by the end of the 2014-2015 year.
Moving breakfast — and enrolling more students — has saved cafeteria workers’ jobs, Binkle said. The district now serves 300,000 breakfasts in classrooms every school day.
“But with cuts to janitorial services, teachers have complained the food is attracting pests – and they say setup and clean up time is cutting into teaching time,” reports KPCC.
“Parents are now told not to feed children at home,” reports Take Part.
While 51 percent of teachers don’t like the program, it’s bringing in federal dollars. Less than 30 percent of students showed up early for breakfast when it was served in the cafeteria, reports Take Part. Serving a free breakfast to every student will bring in “$20 million a year once the program is expanded through all grade levels.”