School breakfast: It's a great benefit to young students 2008.11.12

A recent letter-writer criticized Morenci’s free breakfast program as good for children, but bad for the family unit. She said it was one more example of the school taking over the role of parent.

It’s hard to argue with that. Children should be presented with a good breakfast at home. It’s the all-important meal before heading out for a day in the classroom. The writer is correct, also, that this should be a time together with the family.

Then you face reality. Many families aren’t able to eat together because of parental job demands. Many parents either don’t make the effort to buy food for a good breakfast or they’re unable to do so due to family finances.

Because of this, we’re pleased that a free breakfast is available to all students in the elementary grades. The more reports we hear about the program, the better it sounds.

At least one teacher expressed surprise at how hungry many of her children are in the morning. She never realized so many children were going without a good meal to begin the day.

A reduction in behavioral problems is suspected, although no firm evidence available yet. Other school districts using the Universal Free Breakfast concept have reported improvements, and it only makes sense. A well-fed child should be able to function better in the classroom.

Opinions on what constitutes a healthy meal will always differ. Good food in one household will be seen as a poor diet in another. The food service staff will continually face the challenge of coming up with a healthy breakfast that children want to eat.

So far, the reports are very positive. Teachers and children are both satisfied with what they’ve given each day before the start of classes.

While we agree that a healthy breakfast should be within the realm of the family, we’re delighted that Morenci school district made the decision to feed all of the youngsters. Otherwise, there would still be a lot of hungry kids waiting for their family mornings to improve.