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Opinion

June 10, 2013

Letter: Universal breakfast program helps kids succeed

To the editor:

I am dismayed by Lisa Fornero’s letter on the Gloucester school program for universal breakfasts (letters, the Times, Tuesday, June 4).

I, too, am a teacher, wife and a mother to two children, and I was thrilled to learn about the program.

I worked in Lynn, so I, too, understand the effects of poverty on students. Myself and my husband attended the very same meeting as Mrs. Fornero. I was floored by how negatively she saw this opportunity. The meeting was in the middle of the day. Both Frankie’s parents attended. That child is loved and cared for. Not every child in this city has it that good.

According to the Department of Eduction, 57. 9 percent of Beeman’s current students come from low-income families. That is well above the state average. It’s exactly why Beeman was among the schools chosen for this program. If we can help those students by feeding them breakfast in the morning, then it’s worth it.

I don’t believe that Frankie’s learning is going to suffer in any way just because other children are eating healthy food.

Statistically speaking, students do better when they have been fed. That little bit of extra time in the morning spent making sure everyone has had the option to eat goes a long way toward getting students, especially young children, to sit down and focus on the rest of their day. And when you take into consideration that young children learn through play and socialization, just being in a school with other children is helping Frankie learn the skills he will need to get along with his peers later in life.

I would also like to say that Principal Sibley was very clear that the schedule still needed “tweaking.” It will take time to adjust. I just wish she had done a better job at explaining the benefits of children eating together. It becomes a daily bonding ritual which helps ease into the work day, takes away distractions caused later in the day due to hunger and removes the stigma attached to “poor kids” who get free breakfast in the morning.

I do not see this as an “unnecessary” change. I stand in support of any program that will help students succeed.

If Mrs. Fornero is so concerned about the lack of “instruction time,” and the vast list of things that bother her, then maybe a public school is not for her.

JENNIFER TARR

Gloucester

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