Starting in August, students at 15 schools in the Tuscaloosa City School system will start the day with free breakfast in their classrooms. It is part of a grant-funded program that provides breakfast in the classroom to schools with a free and reduced lunch rate of 60 percent or greater. However, the breakfast is served to all students and their teachers.
Breakfast options vary from day-to-day, but they include milk, fruit, cereal, yogurt, breakfast wraps and ham biscuits.
This year, the district has piloted the program at Skyland Elementary and Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary. Skyland Elementary principal Tiffany Davis is pleased with how the program has worked out. "All of my children are starting their day off with a full belly," Davis said. "And I know that they're ready to learn, I know that they're going to be engaged, and we have eliminated at least one of the barriers that some of our children come to school with."
Skyland fourth grade student Sh'Niya Deloach agreed it is easier to stay on task after eating breakfast. "If you're hungry, you're probably thinking mostly about eating, and not thinking about what you're supposed to be," Deloach said. "But if you're full, you won't think about eating."
Teachers say mornings can be hectic for families. They say breakfast in the school cafeteria can also be rushed, and students have to arrive early to eat in the cafeteria. With breakfast in the classroom, all students have the opportunity to eat.
Skyland pre-kindergarten teacher Jamie Coombs says for students and teachers, breakfast in the classroom is about more than just the food. "It allows us to build a relationship with them, because we're not just talking about ABCs and letters," Coombs said. "We're getting to talk about what's going on at home, what they like to do, so it really allows us to build rapport with them and learn about them and their families."
"At the end of the day, we know that learning cannot take place until we take care of the child first," Skyland principal Tiffany Davis said.
In addition to the two pilot schools, the following schools will join the program in August: Arcadia Elementary, Paul W. Bryant High, Central Elementary, Central High, Eastwood Middle, Northington Elementary, Oakdale Elementary, Southview Elementary and Middle, University Place Elementary and Middle, Westlawn Middle and Woodland Forrest Elementary.
Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.