Elected officials ate breakfast with students yesterday morning to celebrate a $7,500 grant that will help fund a breakfast-in-the-classroom initiative.
The breakfast items are all paid for by the federal government, according to principal William Goodman, but the $7,500 helped Meade Middle with the startup costs of serving breakfast in the classroom. The school needed additional freezers and trash bins, among other things.
The grant was awarded by the and was presented to the school by the Maryland Governor’s Office for the Children, in addition to the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, including Maryland Hunger Solutions, Share Our Strength, and the Maryland State Department of Education, with the support of Kaiser Permanente of the Mid Atlantic States, the Walmart Foundation, Weight Watchers and the Mid Atlantic Dairy Association.
Rosemary King Johnston, the executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children, said that the point of the First Class Breakfast Initiative is to encourage students to eat and learn.
Many children don’t like going to the cafeteria, Johnston said, because the line is long or they get pushed around because they are the youngest.
“The goal really is to get more kids eating and, to do that, we bring breakfast to them,” Johnston said.
The breakfast food options at Meade Middle have not changed dramatically since breakfast was brought into the classroom, Goodman said. The only changes, which were brought about by the school’s health and wellness group, are the addition of fruit and the removal of honey buns from the breakfast menu.
Sixth grader Rena Edmonds said, “I think [having breakfast in the classroom] really helps us because now we pay attention.”
Edmonds added that eating breakfast while in class also helps her to learn better.
“Now that we eat this, it helps me concentrate,” she said.
Edmonds’ in-class breakfast normally consists of an apple, cereal and graham crackers.
Aziza Saafir-Johnson, another sixth grader at Meade Middle, said that she still eats pancakes or waffles in the morning before school, but eating food in the classroom makes her “concentrate and want to learn.”
In Anita Watson and Julie Bressom’s sixth grade classroom, it is custom to have students involved in the distribution of food.
Breakfast items are placed on a round table in the classroom. Students are selected to monitor the table to tell other students how many items they can get, said Imani Demps, one of the selected table monitors at yesterday’s breakfast. After a student receives his or her food, she explained that the student’s name is checked off of a list.
Eugene Peterson, a member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education who attended the breakfast said, “[Breakfast in the classroom] is two-fold. You get kids a breakfast when they’re hungry and we get them a breakfast with nutritional balance.”
“If we can attack this together,” he said. “We can end childhood obesity.”
Peterson added, “No child should ever not do well on a test because of hunger.”
Meade Middle has been trying to bring breakfast into classrooms for years, Goodman said.
“[Breakfast] is good to jump-start the brain,” said Goodman.