School breakfasts for low income students — especially those proposed by unpopular district leaders and provided in student classrooms — can be controversial, even though it’s not that new. (The newer thing is school dinner.) One place school breakfast hasn’t been especially controversial has been Chicago. Yep, Chicago, where pretty much anything and everything is disputed these days.
Just look to LA, where the Breakfast in the Classroom program was a major sticking point between former LAUSD head John Deasy and UTLA. If SEIU hadn’t been strongly supportive of the program, the teachers might have forced a rollback. Last I read, participation had grown from 7 to 40 percent (see KPCC here).
Or check out NYC, where Mayor De Blasio has been moving mighty slowly with the effort, despite having promised to take quick action when he was a candidate. (See WSJ: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget).
The program began in 2011 and the district is ahead of the rest of the state, based on SY2014 statistics from CPS. Breakfast meals were up to 26 million (or 39 percent) last year, which isn’t as big as the school lunch program but it’s much newer. Projected numbers are higher this year, according to CPS, which also says that the district is rated at or above the median for large urban school districts by the Great City Schools.
This is Chicago’s first year as part of the USDA’s Community Eligibility Option by USDA, in which all schools in the district provide students with access to free breakfast and lunch.
How come breakfast hasn’t been as much of an issue in Chicago as in these other big cities? I have no idea but would love to learn.
Related posts: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget (WSJ); Nearly Half Of Low-Income Kids Don’t Eat Breakfast (HuffPost); IL Among the Lowest Performing States For Free School Breakfast Participation (Progress IL); Dinner Is Now On The Menu At Schools With Poor Kids; Lunch, Breakfast — Now Dinner.