Breakfast For All At Montclair Public Schools

Montclair Public Schools

One of the new initiatives and investments beginning this school year at the Montclair School District is a Breakfast Program at all schools.

Before this year, the District operated a compliance-driven school breakfast program, offering a morning meal where required by law.  Last year, 1,457 students qualified for free or reduced-price meals in the district, 22% of the overall student population.

Now all Montclair Public School children can get breakfast at school. 

Studies show that many children go to school without breakfast. They also show that children who have eaten a nutritious breakfast are better behaved at school, have longer attention spans, score higher on tests, and are more interested in the educational program.

There’s no question that breakfast is important, but how will this program affect the budget?

Chief Operating Officer, Brian Fleischer, explained.

“We believe the expansion of breakfast to the three schools that didn’t previously serve breakfast (Edgemont, Bradford, Northeast) will pay for itself in federal meal reimbursements.”

The State of New Jersey’s Department of Agriculture website explains how Breakfast Programs may be reimbursed.

At the three middle schools and the high school, some funding will likely be needed to expand the program. Renaissance Middle School already has a breakfast in the classroom. MHS, Mt. Hebron and Glenfield currently offer breakfast in the cafeteria before the late bell.

“We’re taking a closer look at the idea of grab-and-go breakfast kiosks at Mt. Hebron, Glenfield and MHS that might require a small investment to set up, but we’re not there yet, ” says Fleischer.

Schools Superintendent, Dr. Penny MacCormack, told Barista Kids that how the Breakfast Program will work at each school will be based on how the principals want to implement it.  We spoke to several elementary school principals to learn more.

Nishuane School’s principal, Jill McLaughlin says Nishuane School has been offering breakfast in the cafeteria for years.

“Breakfast is available for all students, regardless of meal-eligibility status. Parents have money in their food service account for their children if they like them to have the breakfast unless they are free-eligible, ” says McLaughlin.

Breakfast at Bradford is new this year. Principal Naomi Kirkman says the program at Bradford will be “grab and go” (in a brown bag) and will be picked up by students after the first bell, which they can bring back to class to eat.

“We never used to offer breakfast as an option, so this is new. I think it will be an added boost for students who may not eat breakfast at home (for a variety of reasons). I think parents will agree that it is a convenient and nutritious option. At Bradford, we see quite a few students who come to school and tell us “I didn’t eat breakfast.” All the research points to the fact that a eating a healthy breakfast every day contributes to academic success,” says Kirkman.

Edgemont School’s principal Cheryl Hopper says they are very excited about having a breakfast program at Edgemont.

“Last year, through the support of Edgemont’s School Action Team and PTA, we implemented daily breakfast (cheerios and milk) in the Kindergarten. Now, to have the opportunity to offer the breakfast option to every student in the school is really a dream come true! I expect it will be a very popular program at our school. “


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  1. Hopefully the breakfast menu is aligned with the Common Core. I’m thinking that it is, otherwise MacCormack would never have approved this initiative.

  2. BTW, if you were wondering why this breakfast initiative is happening at this time, the answer is simple: PARCC.

    MacCormack wants to make sure that our kids have the best chance possible of scoring as high as possible on the upcoming EXPERIMENTAL STATE ASSESSMENT TESTS WITH FORCED YEAR ROUND PREPARATION (which – let’s be honest here – is exactly what the PARCC tests are).

  3. Step back a minute, Assessmentgate. You are now mad we are feeding children breakfast because it might, in some tenuous way, be related to a policy you disagree with? Come on. This isn’t a political issue man. Let them eat cake, or egg burritos or whatever.

  4. Samwich, I agree about the value of the breakfast program – it’s good stuff. But let’s be realistic and not naive about why it’s happening, and why it’s happening now. It’s because of PARCC.

    Take a look at the fourth paragraph down in the story:

    “Studies show that many children go to school without breakfast. They also show that children who have eaten a nutritious breakfast are better behaved at school, have longer attention spans, score higher on tests, and are more interested in the educational program.”

    The “score higher on tests” is the key here, and MacCormack wants to make sure that our kids are plumped up, teched up (BTW, that’s the real reason behind the district tech upgrade – not this b.s. equity nonsense), and ready to put some big numbers on the board for Montclair (and her)!

    Don’t believe the hype: the impetus behind all of these recent moves – which MacCormack’s supporters and the cheerleaders at Montclair Schools Watch are high fiving about – is the PARCC, or more accurately, the EXPERIMENTAL STATE ASSESSMENT TESTS WITH FORCED YEAR ROUND PREPARATION.

  5. I was told breakfast is being offered because it was included in the most recent contract for school lunches. I think it’s a good thing it is being expanded and know it has nothing to do with the PARRC. There are things we can be critical of but it gets tiring to have everything related to our schools, good or bad, tied to sinister motives on behalf of the board or superintendent. Our district was woefully behind neighboring districts in terms of technology and we had to do some catching up – without increased bandwidth, our kids are not getting access to resources that are routine at schools all over the country. I’ll be happy when the kids dont have to lug ridiculously heavy books back and forth to school.

  6. So now it’s a teacher’s job to make sure kids are fed breakfast now too? Isn’t their job teaching? Anyone thought how this might affect their day? I would think if a child was coming to school hungry, that might be a reason to check in with home. Kids only go to school 180 some days, where do they get breakfast the other days? Beforecare I understand, the others I’m not so sure. Is dinner next?

  7. Given how underfunded most school districts are, I am very curious who these neighboring districts are that Montclair was so far behind in technology. Newark? Patterson? And what exactly haven’t our kids been getting that is routine around the country? A friend of mine lives in California and her kids have no related arts classes because of budget cuts. Same for a friend of mine on Long Island. I somehow doubt their technology is then leaps and bounds more advanced than ours were. And given most research indicates technology doesn’t increase educational outcomes I’m not sure why this is such a big deal to have shiny new chrome books. I’m certainly not opposed to technology in general, but somehow I doubt this is going to be what closes the achievement gap.

    As for the breakfast, I think it’s a shame more families aren’t able to sit down and have breakfast together as a family.

  8. I agree that technology alone will not solve the achievement gap. However, students who are heading to college or the job market will need to have hands on experiences to take notes, create and submit a resume, etc. There is often a “parent technology gap” in that parents dont have the skills to share with their children. Add to that our town has many families for whom the purchase of a computer plus internet subscription may be impossible. Laptops and better internet access in the schools will open up more resources for learning – such as online courses that our district may not offer. Again, for those college bound, everything is done on line and being comfortable navigating that environment will help our kids succeed.

    As far as offering breakfast, it’s easy to say parents should have breakfast with their kids but you are presuming two parents when you make a statement like that. Many of the kids at risk are in single parent households. If a parent needs to get to work and get one or more children out the door early, having the opportunity to have their child fed at school could make a big difference – both in time and financially. Kids learn better when they are not hungry. Remember, we have one of the more economically diverse school districts in NJ -and probably nationally.

  9. I just want to clarify my breakfast comment. When I said it’s a shame more families can’t have breakfast together I really meant that. I I totally understand people don’t have the time or resources and I think it’s unfortunate that has to be the case.

    It is unfortunate that our country has so many children in poverty and even more unfortunate that little is being done to change that. Of industrialized contrives we have the highest rate of children in poverty. Those children go to school not only hungry but with inadequate clothing, not knowing if their living arrangements will be stable, etc. Technology isn’t going to level that playing field and I am just pointing out that studies consistently show that technology doesn’t significantly improve educational outcomes nor close achievement gaps and that if we are going to spend money on technology let’s do it thoughtfully. Let’s also be careful about data mining and protecting our children’s privacy.

    And I would also like to give a plug to our public libraries. They have internet access and computers. So for kids who don’t have access to computers at home the library can also be a great option for working on homework, college applications, et.

    So, to sum up I am not at all opposed to schools offering breakfast. Good idea for many and it is just a shame more families aren’t in the position to have meals together and I am not opposed to technology, I just want thoughtful and transparent spending and not to replace genuine learning.

  10. nycmontclair, here we have common ground. I agree with everything you wrote.

    Save for the idea that our schools are “underfunded.” The per pupil spending in Newark is almost 20k a year. Same with Paterson. Check this:


    When you compare that to other districts, with better outcomes, you see that money is NOT the issue (it matters, but it is far from the only reason some schools fail).

    But you address this with your simple question: Why can’t more families eat together? I don’t buy the “we’re in a rush” line. Because surely, waking up 10 mins. earlier (or preparing the night before) will solve that). Rather, it’s NOT a priority.

    Funny that many of these same folks with “no time,” have time for sports practice, lessons, etc.

    Still, having breakfast available at schools is a tremendous achievement. I only hope that families take advantage of it.

  11. Georgette – I saw that you tweeted about the fact that Montclair Schools Watch analyzes my comments in this thread, and you included a link to this analysis. That’s an effective way to drive traffic to their site.

    Will you be doing the same for other third party sites that feature analyses or comments about posts/threads on Baristakids?

  12. Georgette, I am not on your twitter feed, so can you please confirm if what Assessmentgate is saying is true? Is this common for you to plug third party sites? And ones that are anonymous? Is Baristakids paid for this type of promotion?

  13. To assessmentgate, et al…. so you’re saying that the Montclair schools are ONLY providing breakfast so that kids will do better on common core testing? I am no expert in education but I do read the articles and comments here and recall the anti-MacCormack / Anti-Broad foundation people arguing that the real goal of this testing is for the district to score poorly so that they can then have a data-proven rationale to get their radical reforms pushed through and effectively gut the teaching profession (read: teacher’s union).

    So is MacCormack’s nefarious intent now to how Montclair do well or do poorly on these tests? All very confusing.

  14. Some districts do provide breakfast/lunch through summer. It’s a way to keep kids fed and parents involved. Assessmentgate – you have zeroed in on the word “test” at the expense of the rest of the article. Kids take tests on math, history etc during regular coursework, and allowing them to focus on what’s on the desk instead of what they didn’t eat for breakfast is helpful. This is not a man on the grassy knoll situation.

    Inside tip nycmontclair: follow Georgette on twitter and you won’t have to ask what she’s tweeting.

  15. Tonyrod, I guess I am the last person in Montclair to not be on twitter, but my husband is and showed me the tweet. It seems like just a plug for Montclair Schools Watch. I don’t need that garbage sent to my phone,

  16. Just a little tid bit. I don’t think a chocolate, chocolate chip muffin is such a healthy breakfast to be giving the students. Also sugary cereals not such a great idea. The apple or pear in the brown bag is a good idea though. Let’s do right by our students Mntclair.

  17. Yea if I was a teacher I would prefer if my kids were not loaded up with sugar before class. They’d be buzzing from Marshmallow Mateys in first period and passed on their desks an hour later.

  18. In fairness to the editor, you did ask her specifically about the tweet. I’m saying skip the middleman and get on there. There’s lots of good stuff to choose from. I suggest following your favorite comedians (and ones you may discover) it’s like having a joke factory on your phone.

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