Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Commentary on Free Breakfast Program

The announcement on the school district web site that all students would receive free breakfast gave me pause. After all, the district has more than 6,000 students.

Turns out this is an initiative backed by legislation passed in 2010. There is a comprehensive web site on its history and implementation. It sounds very worthy, though strange to someone as old as I am, who can remember not only being served hot oatmeal for breakfast by my mother, but coming home for lunch as well.

Eating in school seems to have become a necessity, especially in urban districts. Households are way different than mine in the 1940s, when I went to grade school. I read some of the material on how to achieve nutritional goals in school breakfast programs and found it admirable until I got to the last picture in one chapter. In this photo, a food preparer is filling many, many little plastic cups with what looks like macaroni and cheese.

My mind could not get around the image of so many containers for just one of several required food items served daily!

But before I could figure out who to ask at the school district now that there is no longer a public information officer (or whatever you want to call such an individual), I did a search online and found that great minds have already tackled the issue of waste (wrappings, containers, etc.) in school food programs. In fact, there is a movement on it. I hope some of these tactics can be or are being used in Plainfield.

Click to learn more about the School Breakfast Program. To see the multiple container image, click here and go to the end of the chapter.

The program offers a lot of leeway in meeting nutritional goals. One of my questions was whether any ethnic foods would be incorporated into the menu, such as might be served at home in districts with a high proportion of Latino households. Shopping at Twin City has made me aware of how my oatmeal of the 1940s is other folks' avena. The bridge is the smiling Quaker Oats character on the label.

I would still like to know more about how this district-wide initiative is working. If any parents or teachers have observations or opinions on it, feel free to share with the rest of us with a comment on the blog.


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