The Houston Independent School District already has a school breakfast program in place. In fact they say it’s the largest program, serving more students than any other in the country. This is Superintendent Terry Grier.
"We are the largest provider of breakfast in the classroom in the country with over 100,000 students receiving a free breakfast every day. We’ve also began implementing the program in several of our high schools."
The program is working so well it has grown a reputation nationwide. This is Bill Ludwig with the Department of Agriculture which oversees school lunch programs across the country.
"I’ve come to Houston a lot and I know there are some things in Houston that don’t work right, but I tell you one thing that does work right in Houston is the school breakfast program that Superintendent Grier offers here for all the children in Houston ISD."
If the program is working so well you might ask what the problem is. The problem is they’d like even more students to take part in the breakfast and they want even more school districts to offer it. Children at Risk president Bob Sanborn says the program needs to take place in the classroom not the cafeteria.
"Sometimes they arrive right at school right on time for class, not able to run to the cafeteria. If we have free breakfast in the classroom, that’s a very good thing because then they’re able to eat that breakfast. Sometimes there’s a stigma associated with free breakfast. And if there’s universal free breakfast for everyone, that stigma of being the poor kid no longer exists because everyone is getting that free breakfast."
According to Children at Risk, for every 100 low income children who participate in school lunch programs less than half of them also take part in a breakfast program.
But it's breakfast that can set the tone for the day ahead says Dr. Grier. He points to a Harvard study that shows the many ways students benefit by eating breakfast each day. That children who eat breakfast everyday come to school more frequently, go to the nurse less often, have fewer tardies and are suspended from school at a much lower rate.
The start of school is still a few weeks away, but they’re starting now, hoping to make more families aware of the programs — families whose children may be going hungry in the morning.