City students will receive breakfast after school bell rings beginning next month, announced a district official on Wednesday evening. “Starting September and by the end of this year all schools will have breakfast in the classrooms,” said deputy superintendent Eileen Shafer.
Education advocates welcomed the move. “I’m so elated about breakfast after the bell for every child in Paterson,” said Rosie Grant, director of the Paterson Education Fund, an advocacy. “I’m really really pleased to see this will happen this year because we all know that a hungry child does not learn.”
Grant said a number of organizations have been pushing the district to implement this program for years. The district was responsive to the organizations’ advocacy testing out the program in several schools before making last night’s announcement.
Organizers from the Parent Education Organizing Council (PEOC), another advocacy, took out petitions to force the issue. During the school board meeting representatives of the organization handed in 700 signed petitions from city residents demanding breakfast after the bell.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day yet there are children in Paterson starting the day hungry,” added Jason Williams, youth organizer for the council. Williams said children, who start the day with a full stomach, are more likely to learn in school and are less likely to exhibit disruptive behavior.
During the previous school year, the district experimented with breakfast after the bell program in schools 2, 4, 5, 8, 15, and 19. In June, the district had said 30 more schools will be included in the program by the end of 2014-15 school year. With Shafer’s announcement students in every district school will be served breakfast during the first period of classes before school ends in June 2015.