California Educator

April 2017

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" breakfast after the bell" programs are t h e m o s t e f f e c t i v e w ay t o re a c h t h e most students. CFPA is sponsoring SB 138 by state S e n . Mi k e Mc G u i r e ( D - H e a l d s b u r g ) to broaden the reach of school meals. The bill would allow paperless enroll- m e n t f o r s c h o o l m e a l s , e n a b li n g th e s t a t e t o e n r o l l e v e n m o r e s t u d e n t s i n t h e p r o g r a m . I n s o d o i n g , t h e st at e's publi c sch o o l s can re c eiv e an a d d i t i o n a l $ 3 7 0 m i l l i o n i n federal reimbursements that w o u l d a l l o w m a n y h i g h - p o v e r t y d i s t r i c t s t o p a r - t i c i p a t e i n t h e C o m m u n i t y Eligibility Provision, entitling t h e m t o s e r v e a l l s t u d e n t s free meals. CTA State Council voted to support the legisla- tion at its March meeting. Many schools throughout the state have already implemented success- ful breakfast-in-the-classroom programs. Armona Elementary School in the Cen- tral Valley received a grant to serve its students free breakfast after the bell. e morning meal is likely to consist of a hot item like a breakfast burrito, as well as fruit, juice and milk. " I n o t i c e I h av e fe w e r t a rdi e s a n d absences, so the children are more pres- ent," says Betsy Howland, a second-grade t e a c h e r a n d m e m b e r of th e Ar m o n a Teachers Association. Howland can easily spot students from food insecure families. "Last year, I had a child who could eat four of those burritos," she says. "I would say the breakfast program is helping. Lots of our families can't afford protein or fruit, so they load up on carbs." Learning while eating Still, teachers have to balance students' nutritional needs with instruction time. "Breakfast in class is an issue. It occurs during instructional time, so there is expectation we will be teaching," Howland says. "But eating is such a social activity. Students can be distracted." The breakfast-in-the-classroom pro- gram feeding 290,000 students a day in the Los Angeles Unified School District has been hailed as a national model. United Teachers Los Angeles members, however, have had to overcome problems including vermin and wasted classroom time, since the program was introduced in 2012. Even with th e best pro- grams, providing meals in schools doesn't always trans- late to meals in the students. "A l o t o f s c h o o l s d o n' t give students enough time to eat," Chen-Maynard says. "Children may have a half hour, and much of that time is spent standing in the lunch line. By the time they get their lunches, they have to scarf them." In response, some schools set up tables at the cafeteria door with fresh fruit and healthy snacks that students can grab and go. Others may have healthy snack food carts available in the hallways. And some work with food banks to host on-site food pantries for families. " Ma n y d i s t r i c t s a re d o i n g a g o o d job," Chen-Maynard says. "Near me, the Yucaipa School District negotiated with local farmers to get more fresh fruits and vegetables into the schools. Of course, schools don't always have the personnel to clean and prepare farm-fresh produce. " The sad thing is that many school districts don't have dieticians on staff, or dieticians who can work with the school nurses. We need to have more food pro- fessionals so we can provide nutrition education and work to provide healthier choices. I urge teachers to advocate for districts to hire a dietician." Snacks Without Shame In her 2016 book I Wish My Teacher Knew, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz writes about how her school and dis- trict dealt with the problem of hunger as a barrier to learning. With hungry kids in her class, she had to figure out ways to make healthy snacks available while not calling attention to, and inad- vertently shaming, individuals. "I started a food drawer," writes Schwartz. "I keep it stocked with snacks I buy myself or friends and family donate. I let my students know they can take what they need, no questions asked. My students are stealthy about it and grab food without my even noticing." She adds that there are many iter- ations of the food drawer. " There are millions of teachers who have stepped in and fed hungry students, a fact that makes me proud of my profession. We truly are first responders. Many teachers ensure that food is available for their students when they need it, because a hungry student is not a student who can learn at his or her best." Data Points • Percentage of U.S. children living in food insecure households: 21 • Percentage of California children living in food insecure households: 23 • Percentage of educators who say students regularly come to school hungry due to lack of food at home: 73 • Average amount teachers spend each month on food for students: $37 Sources: Kidsdata, June 2016, using 2014 data; Share Our Strength, 2013 "Hunger in Our Schools" survey 39 April 2017 Joleen Carlson

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