GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

June 18, 2013

Editorial: School meals can't cheat class time

By now, no one should question the need for Gloucester’s and other schools to provide all economically eligible students with free breakfasts and other meals.

And Gloucester Superintendent of Schools Richard Safier is also right to accept the so-called universal breakfast program for Beeman Memorial and Veterans Memorial elementary schools, both of which have student bodies in which more than 60 percent of the kids meet those eligibility standards.

But he and other school officials are also right to look into ensuring that school food programs — including the universal breakfast program, for which the city gets full state reimbursement — do not cut into too much classroom time, an issue raised by parent Lisa Fornero.

For while school officials and staffers should ensure the children get the physical nourishment they need — and that kids whose parents can’t, don’t or won’t provide them with breakfast before they leave for school aren’t singled out in view of their peers — it’s also critical that kids get the instruction time they need as well, so that they don’t fall behind kids in other school as all move up in grades.

School breakfasts and other food services are an essential part of today’s learning environment. But they can’t take away excessively from class time, either. Here’s hoping school officials find a format that meets all of the kids’ educational needs.

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