U-46 offers free breakfast at 22 schools

School District U-46 opens the gate for the new school year. Students of 22 schools will get the offer of free breakfast before starting their school day. 14 schools participated in the Universal Breakfast program last spring. The number of schools has increased this year as twenty-one elementary schools and one middle school participate.

The School Breakfast Program is a federally-funded package. The program is for schools with a high rate of free or reduced-price eligible students. The US Department of Agriculture provides the funds to U-46. The department repays U-46 on the base of every breakfast it serves. Reduced and free meals get higher reimbursements. Elena Hildreth, the director of the Department of U-46 Food and Nutrition Services, said, “Students who eat school breakfast have improved math scores.”

A study has proved that the school breakfast has a positive effect on the punctuality and attendance of the students. The school breakfast also decreases anxiety and depression. Hildreth added, “Making the breakfast program open for all students eliminates the stigma for many families.” The participation of the students in the program increases the reimbursement.

15 elementary schools will provide free dinner to the students enrolled in the after-school childcare program, SAFE, in the 2019-20 school year. The state of Illinois will reimburse the dinner. Hildreth told that nothing hot would be served in the breakfast. Students can save the breakfast items and eat them later in the day if they do not feel hungry in the morning, Hildreth added.

Dustin Covarrubias, the principal of Willard Elementary School in South Elgin, said, “We started offering universal breakfast after spring break in 2019.” He added, “Parents, students, and staff have all seen the benefits.” The school administrations found the positive response of students as most of the students enjoy the universal breakfast. Some students save breakfast items for a late morning snack.

Staff writer for the Chicago Morning Star

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