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Starting the day off right: District to fund some breakfast programs next year

Starting the day off right: District to fund some breakfast programs next year

Posted: Monday, February 01, 2010

Angy Cunningham set french toast sticks with syrup, peaches, mini bagels, sausage, cheese sticks, milk and juice out in the cafeteria at Glacier Valley Elementary Friday morning. By 7:30, the long tables were full with between 70 and 90 kids who arrive early to eat a breakfast, provided by volunteers and from donations.

"We just get up in the morning, get dressed, and get to school on time," said 9-year-old Connor Guizi. "I probably wouldn't eat breakfast at all (if it weren't for school breakfast)."

Many other students agreed. "I like it because I don't get it every day at home," said Lezille Sagrado, 10.

Though all 12 Juneau schools offer school lunches, only five - Glacier Valley, Gastineau Elementary School, RIverbend Elementary School, Floyd Dryden Middle School and Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School - offer breakfast every day. All five of those breakfast programs are paid for with community donations and grants.

That's something the district plans to change next year, said food services supervisor Adrianne Schwartz.

Some changes will actually start next week at Juneau-Douglas High School. JDHS currently serves breakfast on occasion, but will begin to do so regularly Feb. 8, when NANA Management Services LLC, the company that provides lunches to the district, will begin a pilot breakfast program at the school. It will not charge for the program, Schwartz said.

Next year, the district plans to continue the volunteer and donation-run breakfasts and to pay for a contractor to supply breakfast at all other schools except the Juneau Charter School and Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School, which will not be offering breakfasts "unless we figure out something next year," Schwartz said.

"Our plan is to eventually be serving breakfast district-wide through the national school breakfast program. We're just not taking that step right now because it takes a lot to put something like this in place," Schwartz said.

As current breakfast programs are volunteer and donation run, they're not operated through the National School Breakfast program. Schwartz said they do, however, conform to the district's wellness policy, as does any food served during school hours.

The Juneau School Board also has discussed the need for breakfast in schools.

"I think people don't realize how many kids still in this town come to school without food. You can't learn if you're hungry," School Board President Mark Choate said at the Board's January meeting.

With around 350 kids at Glacier Valley, more than 20 percent of the students eat breakfast at the school, though the school does have a relatively high number of kids that qualify for free and reduced-price lunches.

Some kids walk to school. Principal Ted Wilson also said members of Aldersgate United Methodist Church run a breakfast van that picks kids up to make sure they arrive in time to eat.

• Contact reporter Mary Catharine Martin at 523-2276 or maryc.martin@juneauempire.com.



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