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Calif. Schools Chief Launches Statewide Breakfast Initiative In San Diego

— The state's superintendent of public instruction Jack O'Connell says school breakfasts make a big difference in student achievement. That's why he launched a statewide school breakfast initiative on Monday in San Diego.

Just before 9 a.m. at Sherman Elementary near downtown San Diego, teacher Jen Hoffman greets her students.

“Good morning Room 13! How are you?” Hoffman asks.

“Good morning, Mrs. Hoffman. How are you?” her students respond, cheerfully.

In front of each child is a container of milk, a hot breakfast sandwich and some peaches. This is called Breakfast in the Classroom, a free power breakfast for kids before class begins.

“We don't always get to do the social building (in the classroom) because we're so focused on academics. So it's a moment just to be together,” Hoffman said.

It's also the time to feed hungry minds. Researchers say school breakfasts make a big difference in student achievement. That's important for Sherman Elementary, a school with a large number of Spanish-speaking students who come from low-income families. Eight-year-old Anne Marie Garcia agrees as she munches on peaches.

“It gets you more smarter to catch up,” Garcia said. “For me, in language arts, I am getting more better because I'm eating better.”

The state's Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell launched a statewide school breakfast initiative in San Diego on Monday because he wants to see more of these programs. He said San Diego Unified has a model program.

O’Connell said California missed out on federal school nutrition funding because there weren't enough breakfast programs. San Diego Unified's Joanne Tucker said some principals think they'd cut into class time. Teachers think it'll be messy.

“There is resistance from the teachers who are afraid that there is going to be spills on the floor or crumbs left that are going to attract bugs," Tucker said.

But Tucker said principals report tidy classrooms and no loss in instructional time. In fact, she said schools that serve classroom breakfasts report fewer trips to the nurse’s office and fewer students late to school.

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