Oakland schools start breakfast program

August 30, 2010 5:50:12 PM PDT
Every student in Oakland was offered a nutritious breakfast Monday. In the past it was only given to those families who qualified for the free or reduced lunch program.

"There is a stigma that can be associated with the free and reduced lunch meal program, so we want to wipe that away, get rid of as many road blocks as we can so that everyone who needs it or wants it can participate in the program," said Jennifer LaBarre, director of Nutrition Services for Oakland Unified School District.

Oakland as well as Berkeley Unified subscribe to the "Meals for Needy Pupils" program.

The program is funded by a special property tax passed in the 1970s (before Prop 13). Back then, only one-third of the school districts approved it. But Prop 13 limited property taxes. Any district that had not signed up for the program was left wishing it had.

Districts can now choose to use the money for student nutrition or any other purpose.

Oakland gets $600,000 extra from "Meals for Needy Pupils."

Oakland Unified thinks the free universal breakfast program for all will make a difference in the kids they serve.

"Not to be too cliché, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and we want to make sure children are starting their day well and a healthy breakfast will do that," said LaBarre.

Many students at Esperanza Elementary are English language learners.

"We start with language development and English language art in the morning and if kids aren't ready, they will not be able to learn, so this will be tremendously important that every kid will get a healthy breakfast," said third grade teacher Kim Nibblett.


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