Carson City schools increasing Breakfast in Classroom program to elementary schools

The Carson City School District will expand its Breakfast in the Classroom program to all elementary program schools during the 2020-21 school year with Chartwells, as presented during Tuesday’s regular Board of Trustees meeting.

Elizabeth Snyder, director of Nutrition Services, outlined a series of new implementations at Carson City’s school sites for the hybrid and online schedules that will allow students to access meals when they’re on campus and at home.

The program is based on Senate Bill 503, or the Breakfast After the Bell bill, initiated by former Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2015 and signed by the Nevada Legislature, according to chief financial officer Andrew Feuling. Schools with more than 70 percent of its students who qualify for free and reduced lunch are required to serve breakfast after the school day begins. This included Carson City’s Empire, Mark Twain and Fremont elementary sites, and the district then could add it to other campuses for sites with an FRL rate of less than 70 percent where it saw fit.

Next year, due to the district’s new agreement with Chartwells, Bordewich-Bray, Fritsch and Seeliger will be added.

Snyder said the program model will vary at all the sites, but it will destigmatize school meals for students eating in the classroom.

“Studies have shown eating breakfast at school kind of marks you as a poor kid,” Snyder said.

But encouraging kids to eat in the classroom ensures they’re engaged, ready to learn and focused is one of the greater benefits of the program, Snyder said, and it also allows teachers to take attendance, review health and wellness standards and incorporate science, health or math lessons into their instruction.

From 2018-19 to 2019-20 at Mark Twain, participation went up by 59 percent while participation at Fremont went up 55 percent.

Going forward, students at Empire, Mark Twain and Fremont elementary schools now will receive free breakfast in the classroom and free lunch in the cafeteria as they always have and will be offered next-day meals. Teachers will ask students if they would like a next-day breakfast and lunch, which will be delivered to the classroom before the child leaves for the day.

Feuling also mentioned that certain U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers allowing families access to meals for younger children are no longer available after the district has transitioned to a summer feeding program under the USDA. After school starts Aug. 24, families will no longer be able to access these waivers, Snyder said, since the district has transitioned to a 52 percent district wide rate of FRL students.

In addition to breakfast, schools will see a number of changes about how and where meals will be served overall for breakfast and lunches with Chartwells at the helm and in general practices about how students can eat or drink.

Overall, students at Empire, Mark Twain and Fremont, which are Provision II schools where everyone can eat for free, will receive free lunch in the cafeteria and receive next-day meals and have them delivered to the classroom before the child leaves for the day. For Bordewich, Seeliger and Fritsch, which are not Provision II sites, meals are charged based on FRL status with lunch in the cafeteria and next-day meals will be offered and will be delivered to the classroom before the child leaves for the day. For Carson Middle, Eagle Valley Middle and Carson High, lunch will be available in the cafeteria with next-day meals to be picked up in the cafeteria before students leave for the day.

Snyder said her staff doesn’t believe many of the 100 percent online learners will take advantage of district-provided meals, so for now, this will be handled on a case-by-case basis, and families in need can call Nutrition Services at 775-283-2150 at least one day before they’re in need of meals.

Students will be provided with reusable, aluminum Pathwater bottles to refill at water stations and will not be allowed to drink directly from school fountains. All sites will adhere to social distancing guidelines in the cafeteria, and elementary students will receive breakfast when they arrive in their classrooms or on their way into the building.

For families who might ask about students’ eligibility for lunches based on their qualification last year, it will continue for 30 days this year and a new application must be submitted before the 30-day grace period ends.

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