Be Informed!

The First Class Breakfast Program is being implemented in schools all over Houston. I am a very involved parent, but I have only one experience to share and one point of view. In an effort to share information and inform parents, I welcome comments and guest posts!

Forward this to all who might be interested. You need to be informed and aware of what is happening in your schools.

Friday, May 28, 2010

What do you want to see on the menu?

Next week the Food Services Parent Advisory Committee will be meeting again to discuss menu selections for the Fall.

I have asked this of fellow parents in my school, but I would like to know from you as well. 

1. What food items would you really like to see gone from the menu? 
2. What suggestions do you have for healthy new additions? 

Answer either question for the breakfast or lunch menu and I'll take some of your suggestions to the meeting next week.  Send me an email or leave a comment below.

I also plan to report back on some changes happening with the breakfast menu for the Fall.  I heard some exciting possibilites for more items made fresh in the Food Services Facility rather than manufactured products purchased from food for next Fall, but some of the details are still being worked out.

Check back late next week for an update.  As things happen or news comes out in the summer, I'll be here to keep you informed. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 9 - Last Day of School

I have no photos today.  Things are always a bit different on the last day and it is no different in the blog world. 

As you can imagine and probably experienced yourself today, the last day of school is not normal.  Breakfast was still served as usual.  Breakfast was an Oatmeal bar and a banana, with juice and milk.  Some kids ate some kids didn't.  There was an experiment in the Kindergarten classroom, though.  Since this was a pretty quick easy to eat meal, the kids did a free draw exercise while they were eating.  Unfortunately there were quite a few spills and messes to clean up.  They probably will go back to just eating and not getting started with lessons until after breakfast.  It may take longer, but the time they saved by multi-tasking was lost because of the extra cleanup.

So what do your kids do during breakfast?  Are there activities that can be done while eating that don't result in messes? 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So what do we do about it?

I have received a lot of emails from parents that don't want this program at their school becuase they don't want the lost class time and they don't want their kids eating the food.  These are all valid objections, but it won't keep the program out of your school. 

First, we must all realize that this program IS coming to your school if it isn't already there. No parent or principal has been able to prevent it (yet) and some schools have certainly tried. The best thing you can do as a parent is to work together, through the PTO or shared decision making committees at your school, talk with the Principal and HISD Food Services about alternatives to strict classroom delivery and see what else might make sense for your campus.  You have the opportunity to request the best delivery method of the breakfast that meets the needs of the students and the desires of the parents at their campus.

So here are some action items for you:

If you just don't want your child to eat breakfast at school, there are two options.
1. Kids can just say no thanks. Your child can simply not take a breakfast meal when it is delivered to the classroom. 
2. Parents can say no thanks. If an Opt-out form is not readily available at your school, write a letter to the Principal and your child's teacher to inform them that you do not want your child eating the breakfast that is being served.  Schools are dealing with this differently, so check with yours on the best way to handle this.

Teachers will have additional activities available for the kids who choose not to eat. It may be reading, journaling or doing other exercises, but there is generally something constructive that can be done during this period of time.

If you object to the lost class time, there are many opportunities to develop a program to deliver breakfast at your school that minimizes the impact on class time. The delivery method that is suggested by Food Services as being the fastest is not the least disruptive to the class. The fastest time they are referring to may be the actual delivery time at the door, it may refer to feeding the largest number of kids in the shortest amount of time, I'm not sure. The 10 minutes that was promised when the program was first introduced is really more like 20-30 depending on the grade level.

There are examples of other schools that are making breakfast available at the classroom, but the largest number of participating children are still eating in the cafeteria as has always worked for schools in the past. The model at Roberts Elementary is one that seems to be working well.  There are delivery models in other schools that I have heard of, but don't have a first hand description yet, so I can't really explain the logistics of them here. 

The point is to find out what is needed and desired by parents at your school and work with Food Services to make it happen.  Prior to the launch at your school a team from HISD Food Services will visit with your Principal and cafeteria staff to determine what your school needs and what will work best for your campus.  Don't hesitate to ask for alternatives if the classroom delivery of breakfast doesn't fit your needs.  Flexibility is an option!  Dr. Grier said in his statement on March 24 that "principals and teachers in each school have the complete freedom to design their program to meet the needs of students in their school".  There is no reason to believe otherwise.

A few days ago, I would have also suggested that you contact the representative for your district to let them know of your objections.  It won't affect the implementation at your school.  You can certainly still do that to let them know how you feel about the program so they may think twice and ask for more parental input before voting to implement something that has such a dramatic effect on our children's school day.  If you would still like to contact the HISD Board, all of their email addresses are listed here.

When it all comes down to it, the best thing you can do is to get involved at your school.  Know what is going on.  Join the PTO, talk to your teachers and administrators and most of all, the other parents.

Day 7 - (Turkey) Sausage Biscuit and Scrambled Eggs

Only one entree went unopened today.  Still lots of milk and the amount of unopened juice is increasing too.  I asked my son how he liked breakfast this morning and he said it was good.  The scrambled eggs weren't as good as his Dad's, but he really like the sausage biscuit.  When I asked what his friends ate, he said some really didn't like it, but others ate it all.  Looks like this meal is a good one.

Milk - 47
Juice - 12
Sausage biscuit - only 1!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A mom in favor of the breakfast program

I have (1) child in Rucker Elementary age 4, (1) child in Stevenson Middle School age 12 and (1) child in Milby High School age 17. I'm very glad that the schools are implementing this program for our children. As you can see I am a busy mother and I am having to drop them off in the morning at 3 different grade schools plus try to make it on time every morning to work myself. So some of us parents don't have the time to make breakfast for our children every morning. My biggest concern is the waste of food that is having to be thrown away because the children either are not hungry or are very picky eaters and that besides the food that the school provides, is not good. I say this, because this is an issue that I hear from my kids way too often. I don't like to discourage my kids and I tell them that they don't appreciate what is given to them for free. Growing up with 7 in the family, you bet we were hungry when we got to school and we took what ever was given to us, including and especially the milk. If the parents are picky and complain, then the kids will too. I take blame for that in a sense that I have only exposed the foods I liked and therefore cook for them. I've opened my taste buds to more out there now that I'm older and well now I'm suffering the consequences of my kids not wanting to eat the school provides. The only difference with the food then and the food now, is that we use to actually have real people in the kitchen cooking meals especially for lunch. So from what the kids tell me, much of the food that is given to them is frozen food. A thought of mine would be for the board to take into consideration what the kids like to eat so that they're won't be too much wasted.

Maria Luna

Day 6 - Maybe the kids are getting tired of animal crackers?

In an interesting turn of events today more entrees were eaten than animal crackers.  Animal crackers have been served 3 times in the last week.  This is a common menu choice because they are fortified with iron and this is a way to satisfy the USDA requirement with a food item that kids will readily eat.  I must admit that I have tasted the Kolaches when I attended one of the First Class Breakfast informational sessions and they are really pretty good.  They are baked from scratch in the HISD Food Service Facility and made with whole grain flour.  I actually saw them being mixed, assembled and baked when I toured with a group last week.  Unfortunately, they are the ONLY breakfast item that contains pork, but there is a committment to provide a no-pork-kolache for breakfast next year. 

Here is today's photo and trash count

For 5 Kindergarten classes:

Animal Crackers-25

Comments from HISD Board of Education Trustee, Anna Eastman

My name's Anna Eastman and I'm the Board of Ed trustee from District 1. First, I am all about using vehicles like this blog to push us to pay attention and enable us hear from folks throughout HISD. I know First Class Breakfast has been a frustration for many. It was planned for roll out when I joined the board in January. I have been involved in working to increase the quality of food HISD serves our kids for years. I have three children in HISD and have seen some positive movement by Aramark as a response to parental vision and concern.

First, I'd like to comment on the concerns around flexibility and how the program is implemented in each school. I originally was skeptical about how this could be done efficiently, but heard positive reviews from a group at a school in my district early in the spring (it has not been implemented at in either of my children's schools yet). The set up sounded similar to the one you describe at Roberts Elementary. They have hosted several groups to observe the process. Parents and teachers alike were pleasantly surprised to find that the program has allowed for a quieter, calmer start to the day and a more focused later morning.

Second, I am all for replacing the processed, prepackaged choices (uncrustables, animal cookies and trix yogurt specifically) with items made in our facility or at the very least healthier options. Aramark has said they are working to make that happen. To their credit, they have removed the flavored milks and pop-tarts in a timely manner. I look to the Food Services PAC to continue to inform them *and me* for future planning and will personally continue to do so in my role as a board member.

I think the posts here sum up the problems and plusses in your schools, as well as provide a historical and current perspective from 20,000 foot level. After having supported work to increase the nutritional value of our food service, I am pleased to see this conversation taking place. I don't foresee the ability for a school to opt out of First Class Breakfast entirely; but do know there are flexible models being implemented throughout the district. I will advocate for increased food quality and work to see that the successful examples are communicated before the start of school next year so all communities can be proactive to protect learning time in the classroom and your school's personality, while making sure we have much needed nourishment available to kids. I'm convinced that there are many, many children in our midst who would benefit from this done well.

Anna Eastman
HISD Trustee, District 1

Welcome Readers!

If you are hear because of the recent mention in the Chronicle School Zone blog, welcome!  I'm so glad to see that this little blog, started only a week ago is getting attention outside of our school and area of town.  If you are already participating in the program, I would love to hear how things are going in your school and share that information with other concerned parents.  Many of the readers are parents at schools who have yet to implement the program and are desperately looking for answers and solutions for concerns that they have.  Please share your experiences and send me an email at

Monday, May 24, 2010

Breakfast Service at Herod Elementary

There was a very good description of the program implementation at Roberts Elementary a few days ago.  Some people have requested a similar description of the progam at Herod.  It is quite different.

Herod chose to implement the program in its purest form.  Delivery of breakfast to the classroom.  This is the "Guaranteed Delivery Method" that was proposed by Aramark and is said to be the "fastest" way to deliver the meal in order to provide the least classroom disruption. 

Most classes at Herod are finished with all breakfast service and cleanup by 8:15.  20 minutes after the school day begins.  Kindergarten classes take longer.  My son's class was finished and ready to start the day this morning at 8:30.

Here is a description of the morning delivery in a typical Kindergarten class:
The layout of the Herod Campus is such that two grade levels occupy a single wing of the building, K and 1st together, 2nd and 3rd, and the two upper grades are housed in temporary buildings.  Each hallway is served by two food service carts that serve from 5-6 classrooms.  Each cart has a warm and cold compartment to keep food at the proper temperature.  Before service begins, teachers receive supplies of a trash bag, napkins and straws, as well as the cards for each student.  Carts begin serving at 7:55 and move from room to room so some classes are served later than others.  Those that have opted to not eat go to their desks first and either read or begin an activity that has been placed at their desk. The remaining children (about 2/3 -1/2 of the class) then get in line for their food as breakfast cards are passed out.  When the cart arrives, they drop the card into a bag hanging from the cart and are handed a meal.  This service takes from 3-5 minutes per classroom.  They eat at their desk and are given assistance with opening packages, etc. as needed. When all the children have been given their meal and are seated, I set a timer for 10 minutes. Quiet eating time is encouraged so that they are actually eating instead of visiting. If there is an item that they do not want, they place it at the top of their desk and it is collected and set aside. When the ten minutes is up the I go around and collect trash and we clean up any spills that occur. All total we spend 25-30 minutes on the breakfast process before starting the day's studies.

I hope you find this description helpful.  If your school has implemented the program, please leave a comment or email and let us know how it is working in your school.  The more information we have, the better our chances of making the program work in our schools.

Day 5 - Gallons and Gallons of milk

Unopened milk from all 5 Kindergarten classes at Herod.  I don't know exactly how many children were served this morning, but the overall number of meals served is declining.  Only 14 kids in one classroom, the usual 8 in another.  This is not becuase parents are choosing to opt-out, but the kids are.  Perhaps the novelty and initial excitement of eating breakfast in the classroom is wearing off a bit, or maybe they really aren't hungry.  Teachers, and I'm sure the parents, are telling their kids that they don't have to take the food if they aren't hungry and want to eat.  

Even with fewer kids taking meals, there is still just as much waste.  I count 48 milks in that photo.  I wonder how much this number would change if juice were not also served with the breakfast.

The issue of Nutrition

One of the main criticisms that he been made of the breakfast program or school food in general is the lack of nutrition.  For the meals served it is a true criticism in many cases, but not as bad as you might think in others.

The school lunch menus are planned based on a nutrient requirements established by the USDA.  They are based on meeting the minimum nutrient and calorie levels and on a school week average. 

From the HISD website Food Services page:
"All menu items are analyzed using weighted analysis. A weighted nutrient analysis gives more weight to nutrients in popular foods that are more frequently selected by students. Weighted analysis allows for a greater contribution of nutrients to come from menu items that are selected more often and less nutrient contribution from those menu items selected less often."

In other words, that corn dog or pizza needs to meet certain nutritional benchmarks, too. 

This is obviously not based on the basic food group model of eating which is what our chilren are taught in school.

For a complete nutritional analysis of all the foods served for First Class Breakfast, look here.  Lunch menu items aren't available yet, but promised soon.

Here's a look nutritional analysis of the Trix Yogurt that was served at breakfast this morning.

14 grams of Sugar in a 4 oz serving. This is about the same as a typical 6 oz container of Yoplait Light, and actually about the same as a fresh banana.  This same yogurt was also served in the cafeteria breakfast line and exceed the cereal options that contained about 10g of sugar in each serving. 

What you don't see in the nutritional analysis is the number of foods that are made with whole grains, the low fat cheese, and the lack of pork products on the menu.  (As of right now, the only item containing pork that is served at breakfast is the Kolache, all other meats are turkey or chicken).  I think Food Services is trying and we are better off than some school districts, but there are many things we can still do to improve.

I have been told that there are plans to change and upgrade the menu when school begins in the Fall and hopefully we will see some of those changes during Summer school. 

I encourage everyone to visit the Food Services wepage and learn more about the program and the foods being served. 

And here's a question for you:
If you are unhappy with the food on the current menu, what items would you like to change or see added?  Leave a comment below and share your ideas.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Questions answered

Apparantly this little blog has made its rounds via email and facebook.  I had no idea how far, because I haven't had many comments or contact until this weekend.  I have been receiving a lot of email with questions and many of them the same.  I decided to address many of them here, rather than replying individually.  Here goes:

Why am I doing this anonymously?  Am I a teacher or afraid I will get in trouble?
Many people have asked this . . . some very respectfully and some not so nicely.  I never intended this to be anonymous, I just also never thought it was that important to publicize who the author is.  I want this to be a dialog for parents, teachers, administrators and anyone else who has information to contribute. I am not a teacher, administrator or student.  When I decided to start this, I made no secret of it to my friends, teachers, or fellow parents.  I set up a separate email so I could easily keep track of "blog conversations" vs personal ones.

My name is Lisa and I am the parent of a Kindergartner at Herod Elementary.  My son is in one of the programs requiring application, but this is also our neighborhood school.  I am very involved in my son's school as a volunteer and room parent to his class.  I am also a member of the newly formed Food Services Parent Advisory Committee because I care about the food that is served to all of our children.

Does my child eat the breakfast?  Did I Opt-out of the program?
I did not Opt-out and my son does eat the breakfast.  I felt I would be a hypocrit if I started writing this, but wasn't participating in the program or giving it a chance.  I still feed him breakfast every morning at home also, because I also have a younger child who must eat and don't want to entirely disrupt our schedule for the 9 days that this would affect us this school year.  So he is one of the kids who eats two breakfasts as many people predicted would happen.  I am not too concerned about this for this short period of time, because he does have a large appetite and always hungry.  If he isn't hungry, he won't eat.  Most mornings he has at least tried everything.  The mini pancakes were his favorite, he was very clear that he did not like the grilled cheese sandwich or the ham and cheese and he tends to not drink his milk because he prefers the juice.

Do I have inside information?
Yes and No. 

There is very little that I know or have learned that is not readily available to any parent who chooses to ask the questions.  I attended the Orientation/Information session presented about the First Class Breakfast program because I wanted to know what was going to be coming to our school.  I readily provided a full report to our school principal and PTO Board and I'm sure the synopsis was forwarded to others.  These presentations are open to any parent and I believe they are still going on.  I hope more parents will attend to learn more about it before it comes to your school.

I am a member of the Food Services Parent Advisory Committee.  Mike Lunceford, District V attended one of our PTO Meetings at the invitation of our wonderful PTO President and he mentioned this committee was forming and needed members.  I jumped at the chance to participate.  In only 2 meetings (including a tour of the Food Service Facility), I have been made aware of so much more that Food Services does that is not communicated to the general public.  Much of the information that parents may seeks is available on the HISD website, including menus, nutitrional analysis and information about the program.

I have many conversations with other parents, teachers and administration about the breakfast program.  We exchange thoughts and that may shape my opinion, but I am only publishing my personal experience or information that was sent to me for inclusion in the blog.

What has the reaction been from other parents at my school since the program started?
Of those that I have heard from, they are very opposed to the program.  Of course those are the parents who are most willing to voice their opinion.  I don't know how many parents at my child's school have formally opted out, but I do know that there are several students who choose not to eat when the breakfast is offered.  There are probably many parents who welcome this type of program, they may have already enjoyed the breakfast in the cafeteria and are now excited that their child is able to eat the healthier version of breakfast that is now served.  I haven't heard from any of those parents, but I would love to.

Do the teachers really throw all that food away?
Yes, or at least they are supposed to.  The First Class Breakfast is funded part of a Federal program called the School Breakfast Program and is funded by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) as well as a grant from a non-profit group called DairyMax.  As I understand it, since the food is paid for as part of a grant program, it may be consumed for the intended use only.  It can not be donated to a food pantry or consumed by anyone other than the students.  Since the entire meal must be served to meet nutritional guidelines, a child can't just choose the parts he wants.  This would cut down on a great deal of the waste.  I have been told that some kids are taking the meal just to get the juice because they are thirsty.  Seems like we could provide our kids with milk or juice if that was all they wanted. 

Once again - I welcome comments and additional information for inclusion in the blog.  If you are a participating school that has been on the program for a while, please let use know how it is going!

Thanks for reading,

HISD offers Free meals this Summer

Beginning June 7th and lasting through scheduled summer school, some HISD campuses will be offering free breakfast and lunch to children ages 1 to 18.  No paperwork, no registrations.  Just show up for a meal.  Kids meals are free and adults can purchase meals if they choose.

For more about the program and a list of participating locations, see the announcement here

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beautiful Fresh Fruit - headed to the dumpster

I was so excited to see fresh fruit on the breakfast menu today!  Whole Grain Mini Pancakes and a banana.  Sounds much more like a breakfast I would serve at home. 

My excitement turned to sadness as I learned how it went over.  I am heartbroken to show you this photo and give you the trash counts for today. 

Food discarded from 5 classes (not sure how many were served, but guess about 70):
Milk - 45 cartons!!!
Pancakes - only 10 pkgs (the kids liked this breakfast!)
Bananas -  29 beautiful pieces of fresh fruit.

Participation levels are slowly decreasing in Kindergarten as the teachers are telling the kids that they should only take a meal if they haven't eaten breakfast or are actually hungry.  Turns out many of them are thirsty, so they are taking the entire meal just so they can get the juice. 

It was discussed a few weeks ago at one of the Breakfast Orientation and Information Sessions that the children be allowed to only take milk and not have to take an entire breakfast if that was all they wanted, or if they brought a breakfast snack from home.  No answers on that one yet, but I'll keep you informed if I hear anything.  This would at least solve part of the waste issue. 

Breakfast Service at Roberts Elementary

I saw that you're soliciting feedback about the First Class Breakfast program so I wanted to write and let you know what's happening at Roberts Elementary, which rolled out the program yesterday.

By way of introduction, I have two children at Roberts and am a member of the newly formed HISD Food Services Parent Advisory Committee (PAC). Let me say up front that I'm not an apologist for what I consider the often sub-par food served by HISD/Aramark in the breakfast - and lunch - program. Like many of the parents reading your blog, I take nutrition very seriously in my own home and I'm committed to improving our food as much as possible. I've devoted much of my time in the last two months to educating myself so that I can be the best advocate possible for concerned parents like yourselves. Like you, I want to see more fresh food in our schools, less processed and high sodium/sugar food, and fewer "junk food" entrees like Frito Pie, hamburgers and pizza (regardless of whether these have more whole grain or lower fat cheese than they used to, I still object to teaching children, as we currently are, that these are good daily lunch options, rather than foods that should be regarded as special indulgences in an otherwise healthy diet). We can and must do better for our children, especially those in the most vulnerable populations who are dependent on HISD for one or two meals a day.

That said, since joining the PAC I've gotten a lot of information that I didn't have before, both from HISD and from an unbiased and comprehensive book on the school lunch/breakfast program which I recommend to any parent who's interested in understanding and improving our school food program - "Free for All" by Janet Poppendieck.

Many parents don't realize that, according to HISD, a whopping 83% of children in HISD qualify for free/reduced lunch. 83% !! While that figure may not represent your own school, all HISD schools, even the affluent ones, do have some portion of the population that needs - or simply wants - free breakfast. If Dr. Grier is insistent on doing it in the classroom -- and at the moment I don't see any schools being allowed to opt out, no matter how vocally they complain - then I'm willing to work within the system to make the program as efficient and nutritious as possible. I'm sure none of us want to see even one child at our schools go hungry and if we are forced to serve breakfast from carts, we want the best food possible (more on that below).

HISD claimed that it would be flexible in working with each school and I must say, that has proven true at Roberts. Our principal, Rita Graves, has been very creative in trying to balance the needs of children who need breakfast, the concerns of the many parents who don't want their children to eat the breakfast, and the need to preserve instructional time. She came up with a hybrid system of service in the cafeteria and carts placed in our hallways that, at least based on two days' experience, has worked remarkably well. Here's what we've been doing:

At 7:35 two carts begin service in our cafeteria. The vast majority of kids who previously ate breakfast there still do so. Service there continues until about 7:50 so that kids eating there can finish up and be in their classrooms by our 8:00 bell. Meanwhile, several carts are strategically placed in the school hallways while two tables, staffed by adults and with a second set of breakfast cards, are set up at the far ends of the school. About 2-3 minutes before our first bell at 7:55, any kids who haven't eaten in the cafeteria and who want to eat breakfast are allowed into the school. These children go to their assigned table, get their card, and go to the cart closest to their classroom to pick up their food. Based on my personal observation over the last two days, these children are done, or almost done eating, before our morning announcements are even over. As far as I've been able to see, there has been no detraction from instructional time.

Some parents have worried that their children will want to eat when they see other children eating. While that may be happening at Roberts, I have to say I've so far only heard of the opposite - some kids who'd wanted to eat breakfast but were forbidden by their parents took a look at it on the first day and weren't eager to try it after that! But again, I certainly can't speak for the reaction of all kids.

As for the food, I agree with most parents that we have a long way to go to improve the offerings both at lunch and in the breakfast program.

First, I and many others feel that the addition of animal and graham crackers to the breakfast is abysmal and must end. HISD has told us that the use of these foods is a short term measure undertaken to comply with nutritional guidelines set by the USDA that require a certain number of nutrients such as iron and calories per week. From "Free for All" I've learned that this is not an uncommon practice at schools that are trying to meet the high USDA caloric requirements (which were set in the 40's when the issue was hunger, not obesity) while not tipping over the guidelines on fat content. However, on a tour of the HISD kitchens yesterday, a representative from HISD told us that they are going to phase these items out as soon as possible by, for example, adding an iron-rich food at lunch. HISD also claims that this program was ordered by Dr. Grier with little notice and that they have every intention of improving the offerings over time, with a reduction of the processed items like the horrible "Uncrustable" grilled cheese sandwiches(with 50 ingredients!).

In general, HISD/Aramark has been telling the PAC that it's taken them the last year or two to move from on-site cooking at individual schools to serving all HISD schools from their new central kitchen, and that they now hope to move from processed food to more scratch cooking. I personally am willing to give HISD/Aramark the benefit of the doubt for one year -- due to their procurement and menu planning system, I've reluctantly accepted that change cannot happen overnight -- but if we're not seeing a significant improvement in the quality of the offerings both at breakfast and lunch at that time, then I believe that concerned parents must raise their voices and use their considerable political clout to improve the situation.

I hope this information is helpful. I feel passionately about the school food issue and am happy to share more information with any of you. I may be reached at


Thursday, May 20, 2010

First Class Breakfast - Day 3

Today's breakfast had some problems.  Ham and Cheese Sandwich, Animal crackers, juice and milk.  The lack of considerations for religious diet concerns became evident today.  Many, many meals were discarded without opening because of the ham.  Only later were teachers told that it was actually turkey ham.  Really?  Is there such a thing? 

Anyway, much the same result.  Lots of perfectly good food, thrown away.  This photo below is the unopened leftovers (trash) from just 2 classes.
Total food discards from all 5 Kinder classes (about 75-80 kids):
19  Sandwiches
18  Milk

There has to be some other answer than throwing all this food in the trash!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

First Class Breakfast - Day 2

Our class fared much better on Tuesday.  Some issues with the route were resolved and everyone was served much sooner today.  The Kinder kids are given about 10 minutes to eat.  In the middle of that comes the morning announcements and pledge for which they must stop, stand and . . . pledge.

Here was our meal today.  Chicken Biscuit, scrambled eggs, juice AND milk.

One Kinder class had only 8 children opt to eat breakfast that morning and all the others turned it down.  They were given a choice and chose not to.  Of those 8, they still threw out 3 milks and 2 juices - unopened.

In addition, the photos below show the amount of unopened milk tossed just from three Kinder classes.

Full meals went uneaten or maybe 2-3 bites. 

Our Federal Tax dollars at work. . . .

Melted Plastic in HISD Breakfast

In case you haven't already read or heard about this story.  It was published yesterday on the Chronicle SchoolZone blog.  Submitted by a teacher at Red Elementary.  Pretty shocking.

Read the original blog post here

First Class Breakfast - Day 1

My child is in Kingergarten at Herod Elementary and yesterday was our first experience with First Class Breakfast.  I went into it with an open mind.  I stayed to help the Kindergarten teacher if she needed it and mostly, I wanted to see how it worked.

Well, it was a mess.  Carts started service at 7:55 as expected.  On the menu:  Grilled Cheese sandwich, Animal crackers, Apple juice and 1% milk.  Our room and another Kinder class were skipped on the route completely.  The carts came back for one class but still missed ours.  The teacher had to call the office to get them back in the hallway for us.  When we finally started service at 8:20, it took us twice as long to get all the kids served, because there were so many late students from the other classes.  As soon as they saw a cart back in the hall, they came to our room to get their breakfast.  The kids started to sit down and eat, when we realized they didn't have napkins, so we tracked those down.  At 8:39, kids were finished with breakfast and trash - I mean food - was being thrown away.  Finally at 8:45 that morning, the school day started.  Of the 19 students who took a meal, 12 milks were unopened and thrown away, 5 cheese sandwiches and 3 animal crackers got tossed also.

Each Kinder class threw away about a gallon of milk, or close to it. 

The next day has got to get better.

Do you know what is going on in your school?

Last December, the HISD School Board voted to implement a program that had been piloted in a few schools over the last couple of years.  It is called First Class Breakfast and is an attempt to provide a free breakfast to every student in Elementary and Middle Schools in HISD. 

Breakfast was already offered for free to every student and was available in the cafeteria before school.  The First Class Program moves this free breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom and isn't served until the school day starts.  Hot and Cold carts are loaded with "meals" and rolled down the hall to each classroom, where the student lines up at the door and exchanges their "card" for a hot breakfast served with 1% milk and juice.  They return to their desk, eat breakfast and then throw away all the leftovers.  HISD has said this process should only take 10 minutes.  Actual implementation doesn't show the same results.

There are many arguments FOR this program.  Dr. Grier and the school board are fully behind it.  See his statement from March 24, 2010.  Basically, kids pay more attention and get better grades when they aren't hungry.  It is described as a program that is optional to students who want to participate.  But the truth is that by moving it to the classroom, it becomes and optional program that all students are forced to participate in by having to sit by and watch their classmates eat if they choose not to partake of the breakfast.

As many arguments as there may be for it, there are 2-3 AGAINST it. 
1. Questions about nutritional value
2. Lack of proper food groups being served
3. Mess in the classroom
4. Breakfast is already available for free - why change it
5. What do the kids who already eat at home do?  Eat twice?
6. There is no way it takes only 10 minutes
7. Availability of staff - after the much publicizes budget shortfalls and cutting of hours

There may be a need FOR this program for some students and some schools, but is this really a district wide issue?  The decision was made very quietly at the end of 2009.  Very little parent input was solicited or encouraged.  The administration implemented the program and as soon as a few parents started learning what was going on and complaining, it was placed in the hands of principals to implement on their campuses to best meet the needs of their school.  Principals may or may not support this, but we are all stuck with it. . . for now.  If there is enough parental involvment and objection, we may have a chance of significantly changing the way this program looks.  But until more people know about it, 10 schools will be added to the First Class Breakfast program every 2 weeks until all the Fall when all schools will have it in place.

Share this information with your friends at your school, at other schools, past students or parents of past students.  Opposition will need to come from all over Houston to be able to change this, so let's get started if you want something different than what is coming your way.