Before cracking open their new notebooks or uncapping a new pen on the first day of school, thousands of students in Elgin Area School District U-46 sat down for the most important meal of the day. The district's Breakfast in the Classroom program, funded by the Wal-Mart Foundation, was expanded for the 2012-2013 school year to include 10 schools and will provide a free breakfast for more than 6,300 students.
"As a program, 'Breakfast in the Classroom' provides noticeable improvements to child behavior and concentration, as well as decreased tardiness and absenteeism," Claudie Phillips, U-46 director of food and nutrition said in a news release. "This year, we look forward to seeing the benefits of the breakfast program impact the daily lives of our students and staff."
The U-46 schools participating in the program include Channing, Garfield, Harriet Gifford, McKinley, Sheridan and Washington elementary schools in Elgin, Laurel Hill and Parkwood elementary in Hanover Park and and Ellis Middle School in Elgin.
On Wednesday, students ate Cocoa Krispies cereal bars, graham crackers, milk or orange juice.
U-46 was one of 10 districts selected to participate in the second phase of the Breakfast in the Classroom program, which aims to redefine how breakfast is delivered. Breakfast in the Classroom moves the meal from the cafeteria to the classroom to improve participation.
U-46 found that while 52 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-priced meals, only 18 percent were eating the breakfast available to them, a news release from the district said.
In addition to Breakfast in the Classroom, the district also is offering breakfast carts at middle and high schools. First piloted at South Elgin High School, breakfast carts provide students an opportunity to purchase items such as milk, cereal, breakfast bars and juice during study hall hours.