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Author Topic: Breakfast at school?
Space Opera
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My son has gone to school in two different states, and in both counties we live(d) in, the public schools serve breakfast. The school charges for breakfast, so apparantly it isn't being done for matters of financial need in the community.

At our previous school, the children who didn't eat breakfast had to sit on the bus for 20 minutes while the kids who needed to eat went to the cafeteria. At our current school, breakfast causes an extra 30 minutes to be added to the school day. Regardless of whether the children need breakfast or not, they are dropped off at the school at 7:30 by the bus. School doesn't start till 8:00. The children either eat or go sit in the gym until it's time for class to
begin.

I can't put my finger on exactly why, but this kind of bothers me. In a country where we are urged to eat dinner every night with our families, our school system serves two out of the three daily meals (at least where I live). It makes me wonder if the after school programs will one day serve dinner as well.

I understand that most parents work, and this probably causes less rush in the mornings, and perhaps gives them 30 minutes of free daycare so they can make it to work on time. I just wonder if in the end it's a positive thing. Any thoughts on this?

space opera

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Sara Sasse
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I think there is quality research that shows school breakfast programs decrease tardiness and increase school performance (which is why such programs have the support of the AAP and AAFP), but I'm not sure if that is what you are asking about.

There seems to be a (growing?) tension between parents and the public schools about the issues of home-schooling, required vaccination, sex/science/political education, and possibly school breakfasts. Some parents may be troubled by all of these, some by none, some by some things.

Does this ring true for anyone? Am I seeing something that isn't there?

Space Opera, I don't have children of my own, so I feel profoundly unqualified to comment with any voice of of experience about whether this is a good idea for individual families. I am sure, though, that your kids are well taken care of. [Smile]

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PSI Teleport
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Space,

When I was in elementary school, you could get breakfast for free. 2 squares at school was what kept me alive. : )

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rivka
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My kids' school does not offer breakfast. I kind of wish it did, as it's also a good fall-back for parents whose kids just won't get ready in the mornings. Instead, mine (on mornings that they can't get into gear) eat fruit or something in the car on the way to school.

*eyes clock, and waits a bit longer to go roust kidlets*

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Farmgirl
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Well, I understand the need for it. While you and I, Space Opera, are perfectly willing and able to fix our kids breakfast and spend time with them before they head off to school, there unfortunately are homes where that doesn't happen. Sometimes it is due to socia-economics (they don't have money for food) or possible negligent parenting, or many other reasons. But whatever the reason, there were lots of kids going to school hungry.

That is why the federal government began the program. It was mainly to reach the poorest kids who didn't have food at home. The free/reduced lunch program allows for those same kids to have breakfast at that free/reduced price, and sometimes what the kids eat at school is all they get to eat all day.

When my kids were very young, just beginning school, I was on public assistance. And sometimes there was very little food in the house at all. I was very grateful for the school program for the short term until I got back on my feet.

I don't think the government is intending to take away our parenting responsibility on this -- I think they are just trying to keep the kids in need from falling through the cracks. It is inconvenient, I'll admit, for those who don't need this program.

Farmgirl

[ August 31, 2004, 09:42 AM: Message edited by: Farmgirl ]

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Dagonee
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I love the idea of breakfast being available, but the making the other kids come in early (especially if they wait on the bus!) is bothersome, because it makes these kids have less time to get ready in the morning even though they have to get breakfast at home.

I am sensitive to the cost considerations involved, and am not sure a better solution exists. But I'd prefer it if more flexibility were possible.

Dagonee

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zgator
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Unfortunately, I don't see a way around it. You can only pick up kids at the bus stop once, not once at 6:30 and once at 7:00. In this case, it seems like the benefits to the kids who might otherwise get nothing outweigh the inconvenience to the other.
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Space Opera
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Interesting comments. Any more will be appreciated. As I said, I'm just trying to get a feel for what people think of this. I think, as Sara mentioned, some of my problem with it is tension between what I feel is my role versus the school. Granted, I'm very glad that the breakfast program is there for kids who need it.

It seems as though schools are taking over more and more of what I view as parental responsibility. Unfortunately, they probably have to do that to make up for parents who don't parent actively or well. I think something worth pondering is how far the public school system might take things eventually. Or maybe I should say, how far they will be *forced* to take things eventually.

space opera

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Icarus
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My daughters' school serves breakfast for those who wish to pay for it. Neither of my daughters currently rides the bus, so I'm not sure at what time the bus arrives. When Mango rode the bus to a different school last year, she arrived early enough in the morning to have breakfast. I don't know what would have been done with her if we had not wanted her to eat breakfast there. I've never heard of making kids sit on the bus, though. That's pretty absurd.

We use the school breakfast. We both work, and we have to get in pretty early. If breakfast were not offered, I suppose we would cope, but for the life of me I don't know how. I can't imagine getting up earlier than I already do. I don't think of it as "free day care," especially given that I pay for it. I hope using school breakfast doesn't make me a bad/unloving/uninvolved/negligent parent. [Dont Know]

[ August 31, 2004, 11:51 AM: Message edited by: Icarus ]

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the master
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i don't think that it ever occured to me to wonder what other kids were doing while i was eating my free breakfast. at the same time, i can't honestly remember what we did when we no longer qualified for the program. (edit: i mean, what we did with that time at school, not what we lived on)

i guess i'm not much of a morning person.

[ August 31, 2004, 11:53 AM: Message edited by: the master ]

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Dagonee
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It's something I never thought of, but teachers needing day car could produce some kind of endless loop, unless they teach where their children go to school.

Someone either without kids or who takes their kids to work has to be in earlier than teachers who need time to drop their kids off before going to work.

Must be hard to schedule.

Dagonee

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Farmgirl
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Good points, Icarus.

And some kids just AREN'T HUNGRY first thing in the morning and won't eat at home when they are still getting ready for school. But after the long bus ride or trip to school and being awake a little later, then they are open to breakfast, which is a good thing, because eating before school has shown to make a difference in performance. I'm glad you choose to use the program -- that is what it is there for.

Farmgirl

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Sara Sasse
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quote:
I hope using school breakfast doesn't make me a bad/unloving/uninvolved/negligent parent.
Icarus, I used to work with one of the national experts on child abuse and injury, Kitty (Kathleen) Buetow (an MD with a doctorate in Public Health). She often noted that the peak injury time for children was during food preparation times in the morning and evening. Harder to supervise kids running around, hot stuff being slung about, sharp knives being used, etc. She advocated McDonald's once or twice a week, if you really cared about keeping kids safe.

I think you'd get her solid stamp of approval. [Smile]

[ August 31, 2004, 12:02 PM: Message edited by: Sara Sasse ]

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Icarus
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w00t! [Big Grin]
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aspectre
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Consider ?NorthCarolina?, where the schools dose kids with "AttentionDeficitDisorder"drugs far, far, far above the national average because "medical"needs of poor children are federally mandated. Yet, those same schools don't provide free breakfasts/?lunches? to those same kids.
A survey of "ADD"kids in that state show that they often don't receive breakfast at home. Or money/lunchbags for in-school meals.

[ August 31, 2004, 02:09 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Sara Sasse
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quote:
A survey of "ADD"kids in that state show that they often don't receive breakfast at home. Or money/lunchbags for school.
Who did the survey, and what questions were asked? How many kids?

(I'm really curious, not just being argumentative. It sounds very interesting. I wonder how they selected out "ADD" kids and what the response rate was. (?) )

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Farmgirl
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quote:
Yet, those same schools don't provide free breakfasts/?lunches? to those same kids.
Not sure I follow your thinking on this statement. The free/reduced lunch is based on income level, not on whether or not they receive ADD meds. Are you saying the school doesn't participate AT ALL in the free/reduced lunch program? I didn't think it was an option!! (well, the breakfast program may be optional, but lunch one isn't)

From the school's standpoint, the Fed government has made it so most want to participate in offering this program. I used to cover school board meetings/district budgets, etc. for the local newspaper. If, (for instance) the local school's "normal" lunch price for full-paying kids was $1.90 per student, the federal program was paying the school $2.10 per student for those on free lunch (these are not exact figures, because I don't have current numbers with me, but this shows the point I am trying to make). Anyway, the school actually made MORE money off the government-paid program for lunch than the private-pay, so most of them offer it.

Farmgirl

[ August 31, 2004, 02:14 PM: Message edited by: Farmgirl ]

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MyrddinFyre
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At my high school, when the bus dropped you off you waited in the cafeteria for school to start, other areas of the school being off-limits until the bell rang at seven (even your locker >.<). So they finally decided to sell breakfast things during this time, which was rather long because of the strange bus schedule. This was a LIFESAVER for me cause my bus picked me up at 6:10. Who in their right mind is hungry at five in the morning? But by six thirty when I was at school, I was tired and hungry and I'm just really glad they had food available. [Smile]
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MyrddinFyre
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Oh, and people who got free or reduced lunch also got vouchers for breakfast, I believe. Which was cool.
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aspectre
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Sorry, can't really refer you to the specific articles, SaraSasse. But I believe the specifics were cited in extensive feature articles on ADD and drugging schoolchildren in either the NewYorkTimes and/or the LosAngelesTimes. And have vague memories about the same sort of stories on 60Minutes and/or Dateline (I don't watch tv very often, and even then it tends to be a background while also doing other things).

Among other interesting tidbits was that ADD drugs were used in richer ?Minnesota?school districts at rates ?triple/quadruple? above the national average on children who performed well above average on IQ tests and schoolwork before ever receiving the drugs. Guess it's a "medical disability" to fail to pay rapt attention to droning teachers.

[ August 31, 2004, 02:34 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Mrs.M
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I'm shocked that kids had to wait on the bus while others ate breakfast inside. What happened in the winter - are the busses heated? How about when it's sweltering in the first few weeks of school? I don't imagine that there's air conditioning on the busses. That seems grossly unfair to me and I would be furious if I was a parent.

I wonder who is providing the food for these breakfasts? I'm reading a (so far) fantastic and interesting book called Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood by Susan Linn. There's a chapter on marketing in schools that I haven't gotten to, but I've been aware of the controversey surrounding the corporate sponsorship of school cafeterias for some time. For the most part, I'm dead set against it. I really don't want my future children to be able to get a Happy Meal in their elementary school.

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Sara Sasse
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It looks like the daily NC student participation in the school breakfast program is about 300,000, with about 240,000 of those being reduced-price or free; and the daily participation in the school lunch program is about 830,000, with about 435,000 of those being reduced-fee or free.

North Carolina uses federal funds for school breakfasts and lunches to participate in the Farm-to-School program, and the state has a Summer Food Service Program that "provides nutritious meals to children who would normally receive free or reduced price meals when school is in session."

In 2003, only California, Florida, Georgia, New York, and Texas had more students served in the School Breakfast Program than did North Carolina.

aspectre, I'm not sure the claim that NC "schools don't provide free breakfasts/?lunches? to those same kids" is correct. If they meet the guidelines for reduced fee or free meals, they should be getting them.

Why would a diagnosis of ADD exclude them from accessing these (obviously provided) services? That just doesn't make sense.

(I'm still looking for that survey, BTW, but I haven't found it yet. I'm sure it's there, though. Any other details you remember? [Confused] )

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aspectre
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The gist of the articles, Farmgirl, was that ?NorthCarolina? was legally required to provide free medical care to poor children, while school district participation in the federal free school breakfast/lunch program was purely optional. And the state (and most school districts) refused to spend money on the matching funds needed to receive the federal subsidy.

BTW SaraSasse, I remember another source who was making a major issue about the ADD stories of the time.
As a pediatrician, perhaps a search on HealthCentral or an email directly to Dr.DeanEdell will get you to the actual source material.

[ August 31, 2004, 03:11 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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aspectre
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That's why I bracketed "NorthCarolina" and "Minnesota" with question marks: to highlight doubts about the accuracy of my memory. Possibly, it was SouthCarolina or WestVirginia.
And it is quite possible that the state involved has decided to go into the federal free breakfast/lunch program since the ADDdrugging stories broke.

[ August 31, 2004, 03:13 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Sara Sasse
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quote:
There's a chapter on marketing in schools that I haven't gotten to, but I've been aware of the controversey surrounding the corporate sponsorship of school cafeterias for some time. For the most part, I'm dead set against it. I really don't want my future children to be able to get a Happy Meal in their elementary school.
Mrs. M, I share your concern. There has been quite a stir over this in the AAP and other child advocacy organizations (both grassroots and professional). Parents are not alone. "Recent studies have shown the children who participate in the National School Lunch Program consume twice the servings of fruits and vegetables and eat greater amounts of grains and dairy products." See, also, the Farm-to-School link above for more good news about bringing healthy, non-corporation-funded food into the schools.

aspectre, do you think that perhaps the link was that either ADD was being diagnosed more frequently in relativley affluent families, or maybe that such families were (for some reason) unaware of the free meal options available to their kids? Some studies have shown that there is more difficulty in keeping medical appointments for families of children diagnosed with ADD, thought perhaps to reflect an increase in organizational chaos in those families. (?)

[ August 31, 2004, 03:11 PM: Message edited by: Sara Sasse ]

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Space Opera
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Oh, Icky, I hope you know that I would never think of you that way. Heck, my own kids eat breakfast at school sometimes! Often my daughter wants to, and I figure since she has to be there in time for it she might as well.

About the free daycare comment - I truly do understand that for some parents it's a lifesaver. I remember when my son was in first grade and I could not get to the school to pick him up until 30 minutes after it let out. He had to go to the afterschool program, which cost $12/day no matter how how short of time the kids were there. Boy would I have loved for the cafeteria to serve a mandatory after-school snack! [Wink]

space opera

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Sara Sasse
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quote:
And it is quite possible that the state involved has decided to go into the federal free breakfast/lunch program since the ADDdrugging stories broke.
Hmm. Depends how far back this was. In 1999, NC had 260,000 kids involved in the program, which rose to 307,000 in 2003. That's a 15% increase, about 5-10% of which probably can be accounted for by general population increase.

I'd love to write Dean O'Dell, but I haven't time for anything too involved. My own work is cooling its heels as I type. [Wink] But if you come across it again, let me know. I'd like to see it, as it seems to raise some interesting concerns.

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Farmgirl
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aspectre,

In all the things I have read locally and nationally involving this program, I have never seen anywhere that there is any requirement that schools provide "matching funds", as you say, for this program. I think I would have caught that right off when discussing school budgets. Nothing on the government site mentions it either, that I can find.

If you have a link that confirms they have to provide matching funds, please post the link so I can read it.

Farmgirl

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ElvenWench
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If my child were forced to wait on the bus while others ate breakfast I would be raising unholy heck with the school system. That's outrageous.

In our school system breakfast is optional, mine don't eat breakfast there, they have the opportunity to eat at home, usually toast and orange juice or a piece of fruit, neither of my school-going kids is very hungry in the morning.

Breakfast is at 7:30, and the schools and classrooms are open at 7:30, so if you get there that early, and don't eat breakfast, you just go to your classroom and read or work on the morning work the teachers have laid out for you. But then again, our school day begins at 7:50, instead of 8, so it's not like they are there in the classroom very long.

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PSI Teleport
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My school was like what Myr said. The kids all sat in the cafeteria until time to go to class, and they had the option of eating breakfast during that time. I never remember feeling annoyed that I had to go in early when I didn't eat breakfast.
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Icarus
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At the high school I work at, kids can wait in the cafeteria or in the central courtyard. The more common complaint is that the buses don't drop them off early enough to have breakfast if they want it. Cor works in the middle school of a K-8 school, and I think the middle school kids have the same freedom, along with the ability to spend time in the library. K-5 kids, though, obviously don't have the run of the place. If they are on campus, they need to be in Extended Day Care. Extended Day costs money, and I think breakfast is either included in the cost, or is an additional option you pay for.

-o-

Dag, virtually all schools require teachers to be on duty before students arrive. Teachers at my wife's school have to be in the classroom at 8:00. I have to be at work (I have morning duty outside) at 8:20. Our girls don't start class until 8:45, IIRC. Cor's school expressly forbids employees from babysitting their children when they are supposed to be on the job. (Which seems pretty crappy to me; my school does not cop that attitude.)

Extended Day Care is staffed by their own employees, who are not full-time teachers. I think they are basically part time, with hours before and after school. I don't know what they do with their own children, if any. (Most of the care-givers are in their early twenties, and I don't think they generally have kids yet.) I would expect that they put their kids in Extended Day Care, but I don't know if they have to pay or not.

I do.

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romanylass
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I think school breakfast can be a godsend, as long as they are healthy. I know that our district serves such items as cinnamon rolls or Rice Krispies. Assuming that many of the kids who use the program are low income kids who may not get fed well at home, I think this is very dertimental- these kids REALLY need a healthy breakfast.
Also, one thing I got from aspectre's posts is that if a child does not get a breakfast at home, and the school doesnt provide one, might they find "behaving" so difficult that they are more likel;y to be diagnosed with ADHD?

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PSI Teleport
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I noticed that when I was in school we always had "healthy" lunches that had things like prunes and tuna salad. I wonder why the breakfasts were always french toast or cheese toast? Maybe it was just because healthy lunches were mandatory, but not healthy breakfasts. I really don't know.
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aspectre
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It's called the farmer's breakfast: high in protein&fat so the meal doesn't make ya wanna lay your body down to take a nap.

[ August 31, 2004, 05:26 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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MidnightBlue
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For those concerned with kids waiting on the bus while the others ate, that's what happened at my middle school. It wasn't a "let's make the kids who already ate/aren't hungry wait uncomfortably on the bus" thing, it was simply that students weren't supposed to be allowed into the building until a certain time. When they added breakfast, they allowed those students into the building earlier than that time so they had time to eat. Even considering that, most bus drivers knew what time they were allowed to open their doors, and wouldn't get to school much earlier anyway. So for me at least, it wasn't a long wait on the bus. At high school if you take the bus it depends on your driver what time you get there. Some will drop you off at 7:05, some not until around 7:29 (school's supposed to start at 7:30). We are allowed in the whole school, so all breakfast does is change where you hang out and talk to your friends. I don't know many people who take advantage of the breakfast, but I know that people do.
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aspectre
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Type matching funds into your Edit:Find, Farmgirl, to get to the relevant section of this NationalSchoolLunchProgram history.
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aspectre
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"if a child does not get a breakfast at home, and the school doesnt provide one, might they find "behaving" so difficult that they are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD?"

That was the point of relatively recent studies on school breakfast/lunch programs, romanylass. It's hard to concentrate on school esoterica over the hard reality of your stomach growling at you.
Comparisons of behavioral complaints by teachers between school's with and without free meal programs, and the reduction in behavioral complaints after institution of free breakfast&lunch programs seems to suggest that a lot of inattentiveness and "hyperactivity" is due to children trying to distract themselves from the effects of hunger.

Speed/amphetamines (ie long approved ADD/ADHD drugs like Ritalin) suppress the appetite.
(There is a recently approved ADD/ADHD drug which isn't an amphetamine.)

[ September 17, 2004, 05:19 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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maui babe
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what happened to letting the kids play on the playground before school? I know that's what I did if I arrived early, in fact, we weren't allowed inside the school until the bell rang unless there was inclement weather. My kids too. When we lived in Idaho, they hung out on the playground until school started unless they were eating breakfast. We were informed of this at the beginning of the school year and told to make sure they dressed accordingly.
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TMedina
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Reasons vary, but with kid-snatchings in the news, I suspect parents would be concerned and schools are worried both for the children and liability issues.

-Trevor

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MyrddinFyre
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Yeah, in all my schools it only took one or two admin to look over the entire school in the pre-bell time, because the students were all in a cafeteria before school started. If the children were let outside, that would not be sufficient to keep watch.
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Goody Scrivener
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quote:
Any thoughts on this?
Just my two cents....

My daughter's junior high does have breakfast available for all students and does have a low-income program to ensure that those children who have a financial need are able to take advantage of it. Breakfast options include cold cereal, fruit, scrambled eggs, pancakes, toast and muffins, as well as milk and juice to drink. No Happy Meals, no soda, no commercialism (outside of the single-serve boxes of cereal, at least). Food is made on site by the Food Services department, which is monitored by the state's Board of Health and has on-site supervision of a registered dietician.

All students who ride buses are dropped off 25 minutes before first bell. The children who either get rides from parents/babysitters or get themselves to school independent of mass transit are able to arrive anytime between 7:50, when the doors open, and 8:15, which is first bell. Regardless of transport, all students are expected to be in the building by 8:15 for 8:20 class - and they do lock the doors at that time.

Heather wakes up in the morning at 7:00 and has to be at a bus stop at 7:30. I wake up at 6:45 or so and have to get Missy ready for a 7:40 pickup and myself out the door by 7:55 for my train. Breakfast, if eaten at home, is typically Pop-tarts, fresh fruit or granola bars simply because there's too much to do in the morning, even with making lunches and setting out clothes and such the night before, and especially because those items are portable and can be eaten while walking to a bus stop or train station. Obviously, if we have extra time for some reason, we do have cold cereal and instant oatmeal, as well as the more traditional family breakfast items for weekends.

I think that having a pre-class period available for kids to breakfast, finish homework, socialize or whatever else they need to do is a good idea. They are on school grounds, supervised by staff (not stuck on a bus - that one threw me for a bit of a loop!) and kept relatively under control.

I think it makes no sense for the school district to provide two bus runs, one for the breakfast club and one for the rest of the population. I also think it's NUTS that a school leaves the non-breakfast kids on the bus for 20 minutes and seriously hope that policy is not continued when wintertime comes and it starts getting cold out.

As for after-school programs serving dinners, I don't see this as being a real future unless there's some changes made to laws governing child care centers. I don't know if its a state regulation or federal, but every single day care center I've talked to over the past 10 years has told me that all children MUST be collected no later tahn 6:00 pm, absolutely no negotiation or extension. If Mom can't get there, then call an aunt or Gramma or a trusted neighbor, and make sure those people are on a pick-up list with the center. Makes things REALLY REALLY tough for a single mom who works downtown with a 75 minute commute and nobody to handle a pickup.... although there certainly were times that I wished the daycare would provide at least a late snack around 5:00 when Heather was little!

Goody

[ August 31, 2004, 10:36 PM: Message edited by: Goody Scrivener ]

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Goody Scrivener
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quote:
Speed/amphetamines (ie long approved ADD/ADHD drugs like Ritalin) suppress the appetite.
(There is a recently approved ADD/ADHD drug which isn't an amphetamine.)

Yep, it's called Strattera. While not for all children with ADD (some kids just react better to Ritalin) it's the only one I'll trust my missy on after a REALLY REALLY bad reaction to Adderall XR (which is an amphetamine salt blend). We have a little bit of an appetite issue but nowhere near as severe as with the Adderall or what I've read about Ritalin and Concerta.
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