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.

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,

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