Starting Monday, all students at Rim of the World Unified School District campuses will be offered breakfast, with prices varying depending on whether the student qualifies for a free or reduced cost meal.
The district has been wanting to add a breakfast meal program to its current lunch program for students, but it’s been waiting for menu approval from the California Department of Education. The notice of approval came Dec. 6. Supposedly the federal government shutdown earlier this year delayed the approval process.
“We know that for some of our students, the lunch meal they get at school may be the only meal they get that day,” said Chris Jennison, director of administrative services for the district.
It’s also no secret that some teachers, especially at the district’s elementary schools, keep food bars in their desks to give to students they know didn’t get breakfast that morning, mostly because there’s nothing to eat at home.
Hopefully, the new free or reduced cost breakfast program will address that issue.
“We know students perform better when they’ve had nutrition,” said Jennison, who oversees the district’s food program. “We believe the breakfast program will help our students.”
Breakfast meal pricing will be $1.50 for students, 30 cents for students who qualify for reduced prices, and $2 for adults, such as teachers or staff.
The menus have been developed with a collaborative approach, Jennison said. “We’ve talked with the staff, and our vendors have provided samples.”
A typical menu would include proteins, grains, fruit and milk, such as mini maple pancakes, orange juice and either chocolate milk or nonfat milk. Other menu items include yogurt, other types of fruit and different types of muffins. The district hopes to add other items in the near future, such as an egg and cheese burrito.
The district has been questioned by a few members of the public about offering some items, such as mini pancakes, as to whether they are truly nutritious, but nutrition experts at the district said the pancakes are made from whole grains.
Some campuses will be offering their students the breakfast meal before classes begin, while other sites will be offering breakfasts during snack break. The decision will be up to the school principal.
Currently the district works with the National School Lunch Program, a federally funded program that assists schools and other agencies in providing nutritious lunches to children at reasonable prices. Rim is reimbursed for the lunch program, and will also be reimbursed for breakfast now that menus have been approved.
For children, the National School Lunch Program provides a nutritious meal that contains one-third of the recommended dietary allowance of necessary nutrients. For parents, the program offers a convenient method of providing a nutritionally balanced lunch at the lowest possible price.
For schools, the program enhances children’s learning abilities by contributing to their physical and mental well being. Studies have shown that children whose nutritional needs are met have fewer attendance and discipline problems and are more attentive in class.
For Rim parents, there is an application to fill out to determine if they qualify for reduced or no cost lunches for their children, Jennison said.
“If they already qualify for the lunch program, they will automatically qualify for the breakfast program,” he said. He encouraged as many parents as possible to apply.
Jennison said funding for the breakfast program will come out of the food service department’s current nutritional budget. Extra staff will not be needed, because adjustments will be made in work schedules.