California schools could be required to serve breakfast in first-period classes or during a mid-morning break, reports Jane Meredith Adams on EdSource. Assembly Bill 1240 would align California with a national campaign called Breakfast After the Bell.
More children eat breakfast at school if they don’t have to come early and report to the cafeteria. Eating breakfast improves students’ “test scores, attendance, concentration and behavior,” according to advocates.
The bill requires schools to offer breakfast if 40 percent of students come from low-income families. Schools with 60 percent of low-income students must offer breakfast after the school day begins.
If 80 to 100 percent of students are from low-income families, the school must offer breakfast by 2016-17, breakfast “after the bell” by 2017-18 and free breakfast for all students by 2018-19.
In Los Angeles Unified, school breakfast participation rose from 29 percent to 81 percent of students when schools moved to serving breakfast in the classroom.
Laura Benavidez, co-director of Food Services for Los Angeles Unified, said teachers can use the time to take attendance, collect homework and read to students. “The upside is you have a child who is focused and ready to learn,” Benavidez said.
However, teachers complained breakfast takes too much time and attracts vermin, reports the Los Angeles Times. Including the clean-up, teachers said they lose 30 minutes of teaching time each day, according to the United Teachers of Los Angeles.
Other “breakfast after the bell” models nationwide include grab-and-go breakfasts as students enter the school or mandatory cafeteria time before starting class.
Children eat breakfast in the classroom of their Ogden, Utah school.