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New program feeds appetites, minds 

Last fall, Garland ISD introduced a food program at five pilot schools. Daugherty, Davis, Golden Meadows, Heather Glen and Southgate elementary schools launched the Breakfast in the Classroom program in August. Ten additional campuses will join the group by Feb. 2.

“Breakfast in the Classroom was created to increase breakfast participation among students,” said Student Nutrition Services Supervisor Jennifer Craig. “Research has shown a significant correlation between eating a healthy breakfast and improved academic performance. By bringing breakfast to the classroom, all students are able to choose to eat breakfast if they wish.”

In years past, students were required to arrive early to have breakfast in the cafeteria. With Breakfast in the Classroom, students go directly to their classrooms at 7:45 a.m. to begin eating the most important meal of the day free of charge.

As one of the first to implement the program, Daugherty Elementary School students are accustomed to the new routine. First-grade teacher Marisa Gonzalez believes the program helps students begin the day on a positive note.

“I think it is great for students to come to school and have a balanced meal in their classroom set to eat. It gets them ready to start the day,” Gonzalez said. “Since starting the program, I can tell that my students are a little bit more focused.”

Gonzalez also stressed that Breakfast in the Classroom helps parents and educators, as well.

“Some parents have said it is convenient for their schedules. Having breakfast in class eliminates the extra time they might spend preparing food in the morning, which helps when they have to drop off kids at different schools,” she stated. “As a teacher, it also very convenient because it allows me to check homework or work with a student one-on-one while the rest of the class is busy eating.”

Breakfast in the Classroom menu includes cereal, fruit, muffins, string cheese and wheat sausage rolls. Food is delivered to classrooms in padded coolers before students arrive.

Most teachers have students serve themselves after their belongings are organized. Centerville Elementary School is among the second batch of campuses to begin the program this spring. The Cheetah community kicked off Breakfast in the Classroom Jan. 12.

“When I found out we were starting the program here, I was really excited,” said fifth-grade teacher Inez Hayes. “I used to work in Dallas ISD and we had the same program. I saw what it did for my class there and so I was excited to see improvement with my class here, and it has been great.”

“The students have been very excited about it. They are trying their best to come to school on time. I have had just one tardy this week, which shows that the program has impacted attendance,” she explained. “As far as being engaged in the lessons, their bellies are full, so they are ready to learn. I have already seen an improvement in their focus and their eagerness to get the day going.”

Both Centerville and Daugherty principals are thankful their campuses have the program and hope to see others savor its rewards.

“I was thrilled to have the means to provide breakfast for every student,” said Daugherty Principal Deborah Henson. “We have almost tripled the number of students eating breakfast, and the program has created a more family-like atmosphere in the mornings. It is really something to see the kids listening to their teacher read or discussing a concept while they are eating breakfast. I would like to see the program in all eligible campuses.”