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Wealthiest LA schools may be allowed to opt out of breakfast in the classroom

Children eat breakfast at the federally-funded Head Start Program school on September 20, 2012 in Woodbourne, New York.
Children eat breakfast at the federally-funded Head Start Program school on September 20, 2012 in Woodbourne, New York.
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The head of the Los Angeles Unified School District's food services division is recommending administrators allow schools in the most affluent neighborhoods to opt out of its "breakfast in the classroom" program, according to an internal memo obtained by KPCC.

Instead, low-income students at these schools would be served a meal during a morning nutrition break.

Under the proposal, only schools where less than 20 percent of the student body qualifies for free or reduced lunch would be allowed to bow out. Based on the latest district figures, only about 40 of the districts more than 1,000 charter, magnet and traditional schools would qualify.

The memo, written by David Binkle, states providing free breakfast in these areas has a negative impact on the general budget, because most students don't qualify for full federal reimbursements. 

The district has offered breakfast in the cafeteria to low income students before school started for years. In order to increase participation, officials moved the free breakfast program into classrooms last year, starting with the most economically-disadvantaged neighborhoods.

As officials began launching the program into middle class and affluent areas, parents began to complain about lost instructional time and nutritional value

The recommendations appears to be a workaround to current board-approved policy. The memo acknowledges "opting-out of BIC nor constant postponement are available options given by the board," and instead calls the nutrition break option a "revision":

The following are policy revisions for schools with free/reduced-price meal eligibility of less than 20% of enrollment that are currently on the schedule to implement the BIC Program:

1. Only schools with less than 20% of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meal program (as of Feburary 28, 2014) may implement an after the bell breakfast option of Breakfast in the Classroom or Nutrition program.

2. If a Nutrition Option is chosen, it must be a minimum of 15 minutes in length, with a two-hour break between breakfast service and the first lunch bell.

Should breakfast be provided in classrooms?