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.
HISD Trustee, District 1