Reporting Bernie Tafoya
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ELGIN, Ill. (CBS) – There was something new on Wednesday — besides the start of the new school year — for several thousand students in Illinois’ second largest school district, U-46 in Elgin.
Ten schools in the district have been chosen to be part of the nationwide “Breakfast in the Classroom” program, sponsored by The Walmart Foundation.
Unlike federal breakfast programs that take place in school cafeterias before classes begin, students in the “Breakfast in the Classroom” program do it during school time, right when the school day beings.
U-46 said, because of “bus schedules, late arrivals to school, pressure to go directly to class, or reluctance to be labeled as ‘low income’”, many students who qualify don’t take advantage of cafeteria-based federal breakfast programs.
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The district said, before “Breakfast in the Classroom” was tried on a small scale the second half of the last school year, 52 percent of the district’s students qualified for free and reduced-price meals, yet “only 18 percent were eating the breakfast available to them.”
U-46 Superintendent Jose Torres said he hopes having children eating breakfast when school actually begins does not take away from instructional time. He said teachers will likely take care of administrative duties, like taking attendance, while students eat.
Torres said getting in enough instructional time is “the real challenge” for the schools involved.
“We already have a short school day and, so, to take time from schools to ensure kids have breakfast is something we’re going to be watching carefully,” he said.
Still, Torres said he believes students “whose bellies are full will be better able to learn”.
District U-46 has 41,000 total students.