District 15’s Free Breakfast Program Serving Up Success

Students eat up the pilot program ‘Breakfast in the Classroom,’ offering free breakfast to all of the students at Jane Addams School.

Every morning the classrooms at Jane Addams School are turned into mini cafeterias, giving all of the students the opportunity to eat the most important meal of the day.

A breakfast made up of skim milk, reduced-sugar cereal, juice and a whole-grain snack is offered at no cost to any and all of the students, roughly 800 kids at Jane Addams at every school day.

Part of the Palatine Township Elementary School District 15’s universal free breakfast pilot program, the food is available in the classroom for a 15-minute period before the first bell rings at 7:55 a.m.

District 15 launched the pilot program, ‘Breakfast in the Classroom’ at Jane Addams on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

“We’re bringing breakfast to the students,” District 15 School Nutrition Services Director Bobbie Desprat said, “It’s a wonderful way to get kids to eat.”

In its first week ‘Breakfast in the Classroom' fed 500 students, more than 60-percent of the K-6 school each day. According to Desprat, that's a 500-percent increase from the number of kids who ate breakfast in the cafeteria at Jane Addams last year.

“All of the studies show students who eat breakfast perform better in school,” said Desprat. The bottom line is, breakfast is beneficial to students, Desprat said, “It increases cognitive function, kids pay attention more, and retain more information.”

According to Desprat and the school’s staff, the benefits of ‘Breakfast in the Classroom’ were seen right away. “From the first day we noticed it was a lot quieter in the classrooms,” Desprat said, “The kids who want breakfast eat and the children who don’t read, work on homework, or catch up with their classmates.”

The universal free breakfast program, pushed by the USDA is said to improve grades, increase attendance, reduce tardiness and cut down on the number of trips to the nurse’s office in the morning.

“It’s a win-win,” Desprat said ‘Breakfast in the Classroom’ gives students a chance to get to class, settle in and fuel up for the day. “It becomes part of the instructional process in class,” said Desprat. 

Eager to expand the 'Breakfast in the Classroom' program to other schools in the district, Desprat said it's still too early to say when or if that will happen. The district plans to monitor the program and tweak it as they go. Desprat said, "My assumption is it will evolve as it goes and then we can see if other schools or principals are interested."  

According to Desprat, the pilot program does not cost taxpayers any money on the local level. “It’s self-supporting, self-sufficient,” Desprat said, “We would not take money from the education fund.” The federal government reimburses the district for every free and reduced price meal served. Money from the government and money spent in the school’s cafeteria on à la carte items and second lunches fund ‘Breakfast in the Classroom.’

The district specifically chose Jane Addams School for the pilot program, “It was the best fit, the obvious choice,” said Desprat.

According to Jane Addams’ 2011 state report card, 59-percent of the school’s students come from low-income families, that’s nearly almost double District 15’s average of 31.9-percent.

With the highest level of poverty in the district, Jane Addams is also the only school that is accustomed to eating in the classrooms.

For the third year in a row, Jane Addams received a grant for the fresh fruit and vegetable program, providing students with a mid-afternoon snack twice a week. With students, teachers and staff already familiar with the process of eating in the classroom, Desprat said Jane Addams was “the perfect choice.”

Traditional free and reduced-price breakfast programs that used to be offered at Jane Addams are currently available at other District 15 schools but only to student who meet the federal guidelines. With the traditional National School Lunch and School Breakfast program, students from families at or below 130-percent of the poverty level qualify for free meals and student at or below 185-percent qualify for reduced-price meals.

The pilot program at Jane Addams is different because the free breakfast is available without restrictions, to all students and instead of having to make a trip to the cafeteria in the morning; breakfast food is available inside the classroom.

Bucephalus September 07, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Yet another "mistake" from james. Boy you sure do make a lot of mistakes when you are telling me about the school district I live in. Perhaps if you don't like insults you should not cast them as often? You do not know me either, but since I disagree with you, you decide to cast insults upon me, insults such as: - "you are a liberal. You have no clue," - "But see a liberal just thinks money comes from the money ferry" (I think you meant "fairy," but we wouldn't want to inconvenience you by expecting you to know the correct spelling of words) And let's not get into all the times back in June you decided I was an idiot because I disagreed with you. If you want to think I'm an idiot, fine. If you want to call me an idiot, go right ahead. But don't expect me to sit back and think you're an angel of truth and wisdom. You make "mistakes" more often than you actually hit upon something true. If you would stop to listen to other people, other viewpoints, and didn't immediately berate anyone who didn't agree with you, perhaps something more would be achieved here. But this is the Patch, where derogatory comments and inflammatory rhetoric are fine and nothing seems to be inappropriate.
J DeCea September 07, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Not all of the kids receiving free breakfast REALLY need it sure, but what about those that do? Not every kid has parents at home that care whether or not they eat breakfast or lunch for that matter. And not every kid who needs help will ask for it, or has the parents to ask for them. Having been a kid who struggled through for clothing and food and other basic necessities I can tell you things like this make a difference. And a program like this wouldn't exist unless it was needed. Have a heart eh?
Jean September 08, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Student services is director of special education. Should a former special educator not be a director of special education??? I see a whole lot of nonsense on here.
james urban September 09, 2012 at 12:23 PM
ok scott
james urban September 09, 2012 at 12:31 PM
evan i do not care what percentage it is. I as a taxpayer did not know it is my job to provide breakfast for children. When i was a child I recall thats what my parents did. what a novel idea, my dad worked and provided food on the table. Gee since when did that stop????
james urban September 09, 2012 at 12:35 PM
charles like i always say, the schools know that they have no one to stand in their way and they will continue these programs until the state goes bancrupt. This has been going on for years in the city of chicago and look at how broke the public schools are in the city. They even provide for the parents of low income families to come and get free breakfast. You know the NON-TAXPAYER.
Bucephalus September 09, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Do you have any source that says parents of low income families get free breakfast or are you just talking out of your ass again? I can say things without sources too: I heard that james urban's companies receive low-interest state loans to stay afloat!
Bucephalus September 09, 2012 at 02:22 PM
james, there seems to be a lot you don't care about: facts, truth, reality, other people's opinions. But for the sake of argument, here is where the schools have the justification. Constitution of the State of Illinois ARTICLE X: EDUCATION SECTION 1. GOAL - FREE SCHOOLS " ...The State shall provide for an efficient system of high quality public educational institutions and services." http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/con10.htm The schools are the institutions, the breakfast is the service enabling the efficient system. A student, who for whatever reason, is hungry (be it their parents' choice not to feed them or their inability to be fed), does not learn. Hunger prevents learning. Ensuring that students who are in school learn is a good way to ensure that your tax dollars aren't being wasted on students who aren't learning.
james urban September 09, 2012 at 02:51 PM
thats a stretch. I just read what you sent me and there is no where in that article x that states a free breakfast. see you are a liberal and you take the word free education to mean eating because then they learn better. what a stretch. what screwed up thinking you have. Its all about interpretation and you interpret FREE education different than I and I guess we should add on to ARTICLE X to say this includes free breakfast since when is the edcuation system free. According to the last statistic I heard its something like $16,000 per year per student. So where does free come in. Oh, I know where free comes in, the people who live in aprtments and "housing projects" do not pay taxes so I guess its free for them.
james urban September 09, 2012 at 02:54 PM
And to your other fact checking crap you throw at me since you are one who believes everything you read on the interenet, i have (2)sisters that teach in the CPS and they tell us the things that go on in the schools that do not get reported. so I have to say hands on knowledge and one of my sisters has been a teacher in the CPS for almost 20 years.
Bruce September 09, 2012 at 03:14 PM
As of the post at 7:31 this morning, one person had approximately 43% of the 47 total posts. He may not be right, but at least he's annoying.
james urban September 09, 2012 at 03:51 PM
oh boy, a statistician.
james urban September 09, 2012 at 03:53 PM
and 15 comments of 52 comments does not make 43%. I see that you are a product of a public school of illinois
Bruce September 09, 2012 at 04:06 PM
I said "As of the post at 7:31 this morning". Posts and replies have been added. At that time, there had been 47 posts. One person had 20 of them, which is 42.5531914893617%. I rounded it to make it easier to understand. Thanks for checking.
james urban September 09, 2012 at 05:54 PM
nothing like stretching it thanks for checking at 31% which is 12% lower than your bloated figure and the article is about free breakfast not about how many comments I make but see in illinois we have people that just agree with getting screwed because we are so accustomed to getting screwed that we seem to get mad when someone disagrees with the norm and this is now 18 of 55. want to try you math again product of the illinois public schools
Bucephalus September 09, 2012 at 06:27 PM
At least Bruce can spell. You might want to try your English again("you math," nice typing there).
Bruce September 09, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Up to almost 44%. Your 25 posts/replies divided by 57 posts total (not counting this one) equals 43.89564912280702%. By the way, I never mentioned your name. What made you think I was talking about you? Did you attend public schools?
Charles Johnson September 10, 2012 at 01:44 AM
The Board has to ask some serious questions about this program. As the participation rate increases, the unreimbursed costs will soar. There were only 130 students approved for free and reduced meals at this school last year. If that number holds constant this year and the total number of participants approaches the full enrollment at this school (800),at $1.51/meal, the incremental expense will run about $1,000/day for the non-reimbursed students (or $180k/year). So the questions are: 1. What is the average cost per meal? 2. What is the number of approved free/reduced meal students at this school? 3. What is the net cost, after reimbursement, at 500 meals/day? At 800 meals/day? These questions should not be answered by the Director of Nutrition Svcs as she clearly doesn't know what she is talking about (i.e. "doesn't cost the taxpayer any money", "we would not take any money from the Ed fund").
james urban September 10, 2012 at 03:07 AM
didn't you read the nonsense that bucephalus sent me about affording a free education lol here is where the schools have the justification. Constitution of the State of Illinois ARTICLE X: EDUCATION SECTION 1. GOAL - FREE SCHOOLS " ...The State shall provide for an efficient system of high quality public educational institutions and services." http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/con10.htm The schools are the institutions, the breakfast is the service enabling the efficient system. A student, who for whatever reason, is hungry (be it their parents' choice not to feed them or their inability to be fed), does not learn. Hunger prevents learning. Ensuring that students who are in school learn is a good way to ensure that your tax dollars aren't being wasted on students who aren't learning.
Bucephalus September 10, 2012 at 04:12 AM
"i have (2)sisters that teach in the CPS and they tell us the things that go on in the schools that do not get reported. so I have to say hands on knowledge and one of my sisters has been a teacher in the CPS for almost 20 years." Ohhhhhh!!!! Your unnamed sisters! How could I have been so stupid? Well, since james urban's two unnamed, unknown, unverified sisters have claimed that there are free meals being given to adults I guess this conversation is over. Thank you unknown sister 1 and unknown sister 2 for correcting me. I am glad james was able to correct my internet fact checking with some anonymous internet information.
Charles Johnson September 10, 2012 at 10:00 PM
While the board's at it, they might as well ask the superintendent whether he still believes his comment in the DH which stated: "District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson said the pilot breakfast program isn’t costing taxpayers anything on a local level." Then the board should ask itself, given the FY13 $5 million deficit, the stumbling/bumbling deficit reduction exercise, future deficits as far as the eye can see, and this little fiasco, whether they have the right senior management team in place. In the immortal words of Casey Stengel when referring to his completely inept NY Mets: "Can't anybody here play this game?"
Charles Johnson September 12, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Folks may want to keep an eye out for tonight's board meeting where, in the Agenda Item 12-903: Superintendent’s Report, he plans to discuss the following: Adamczyk: CFO of the Year award and award Board Pin Transportation: Another excellent start for Bramley and crew JA Breakfast program: Success Construction projects: Completed STEM Classes: 500+ students enrolled I will also discuss the anticipated savings from the CTC contract and the reasons why the 5-year projection will be presented at the October meeting (versus September). A CFO of the Year Award for a guy that projected a $3.7 million deficit and then less than 2 months later revises it to a $5.0 million deficit because he totally screwed up the revenue budget? The Breakfast Program is looking like a massive, unfunded sinkhole and its being spun as a "success"? Lastly, the CFO of the Year can't come up with the revised 5 year plan for the meeting, as promised? Thompson has to explain why they have to kick this can down the road to next month. They have stated before that the financial condition of the district will be improving over the next several years because of the new contract. If the CFO would take off the rose-colored glasses and use more realistic assumptions for CPI, pension reform impact, state aid reductions/pro-ration, etc., the district would have a better understanding that the financial picture will NOT improve and that more cuts need to be found.
Charles Johnson September 12, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Looks like the district generated a press release on this program yesterday, here's the link: http://www.ccsd15.net/pages/CCSD15/Our_Services/619813721250793106/News/Sept11JABreakfastinClassroom I noticed they removed any mention of using the other cash sales from the cafeteria to help pay for the free meals. They make it sound as if the federal government is paying for this. Federal reimbursement does not cover the full cost of this program, which is why they have to use other cafeteria revenues to make up the shortfall. Lastly, if you look at the picture at this link, you'll notice the teacher eating along with the students. Who's paying for that meal every day for every teacher in the school?
Rachel Glaser September 12, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Thanks for posting Charles!
Bucephalus September 12, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Part 1: Charles, the cafeteria funds you are so hung up on don't appear out of thin air. You ask who is paying for the teacher to eat alongside the students? The answer is the teacher. Where has it ever been stated that teachers in D15 don't pay for their own lunches, or in this case breakfast? The program clearly states it is for children whose parents can't/aren't feeding them. Perhaps if you try hard enough you can make up some rationalization that the teachers are freeloading breakfast off the backs of Palatine's taxpayers (which doesn't seem to include you). I would encourage you to read the D15 budget and look at Account 1620, "Sales to Adults." Now, let's dig deeper into your mythical $81,000 cost for the program. For starters, let's look at the Annual Financial Report for 2011, the 2012 one isn't due to the Regional Office of Education until October 15th and the ISBE till November 15th so it is the most recent one we have to work with. Let's look at Page 38, where Federal Awards came from. The School Breakfast program for 7/1/10-6/30/11 received funds from both PY 10 and PY 11. Those two figures total $279,805 in federal funding. That number neatly aligns with Page 12 Line 196 which is the revenue for the School Breakfast Program. Additionally, on Page 29 Line 107 the state made a contribution to the program, but since the $78,114 covers both lunch and breakfast it is impossible to tell how much of that went to each meal.
Bucephalus September 12, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Part 2: So now that we know most of where the money coming in is from, let's see if we cant figure out how much these breakfasts cost. The district coughed up $1,610,390 in terms of "supplies and materials" (Page 16 Line 62). The other expenses, most notably salaries and benefits, are unchanged based on the number of students served. Each school needs a certain number of workers to make the kitchen work and staff the lines whether there are 10 students eating or 500 students. The only thing that changes appreciably based on the number of students are the supplies they use. Now, District 15 has also made clear how many meals they serve. A year earlier, in 2009-2010, they served 1,272,000 meals, in a year where enrollment was smaller and the federal reimbursement over $100k less. http://www.ccsd15.net/pages/CCSD15/About_District_15/AboutDistrict15 At that math each meal cost $1.27. Even if we factor in purchased services, to account for various expenses that arise out of the ordinary and are otherwise unforeseen, that only raises the average meal cost to $1.31. The federal reimbursement is still 20¢ higher than the cost there, and that also does not include the portion of state reimbursement going to breakfast and not lunch. Which brings us to lunch.
Bucephalus September 12, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Part 3: Lunch options, at least when I was in school, were far more varied than the breakfast options. Variety brings up costs and reduces the competitive advantage of quantity. This program is clear that the breakfast option is the same each day. While the fresh fruit might change, there is a Department of Defense grant supplementing that to the tune of $46,851 (Page 38). So your mythical $81,000 comes from nowhere. You never explained why the average cost of a meal was $1.51 when the point of the federal reimbursement was to cover the cost of the meals. Strangely, though, it appears as if you just took that amount of federal reimbursement and assumed it was not going to happen. If your math was right, then yes the cost of 300 students would be $81,000 a year. But your math isn't right. There is federal reimbursement, there is state reimbursement, there is DoD reimbursement, and the meals just plain don't cost that much.
Charles Johnson September 12, 2012 at 07:38 PM
The $1.51 average cost/meal is an estimate based on the FY12 Federal Reimbursement rate for breakfast. I am assuming the district's cost equals the reimbursment rate. It could be higher or it could be lower. I thought it was a fair proxy for determining the average cost of a breakfast meal. The FY12 federal reimbursement rates were Free=$1.51, Reduced=$1.21, and Paying students=$0.27 per meal. I am assuming there has been no material change in those rates for FY13. The problem arises with giving free luches to students that DO NOT qualify for the inflated reimbursement rates. This school, according to the DH, had approximately 130 students approved for Free/Reduced reimbursement. They now are reporting approximately 500 students getting free meals. Its safe to assume that the huge spike in participation rates is coming from NON-Free/Reduced students. Therefore, the $0.27/meal reimbursement rate for Non-Free/Reduced Students, is woefully inadequate in covering the full cost of this meal.
Charles Johnson September 12, 2012 at 07:42 PM
This is why the Director of Nutrition Svcs indicated that they are using other revenue from cafeteria sales to cover the incremental expense. The problem, of course, is that those cafeteria sales already existed before this program expanded. That revenue is already budgeted. I highly doubt that this board, given the $5 million deficit, agreed to spend an incremental $80k or any amount of dollars on free breakfast for everyone. As to State programs, I am not aware of any State-level programs to pay for NON-Free/Reduced Students breakfast. At this point, the state can't pay for the basic programs its legally obligated to pay without some degree of pro-ration, like General State Aid.
Charles Johnson September 12, 2012 at 07:49 PM
With respect to your comment about the teacher paying for her own breakfast, I sure hope so. We wouldn't want the taxpayer to pick up the cost of breakfast every morning for every teacher, right? And, we certainly wouldn't want the district to inadvertently file a claim with the federal government for reimbursement of a meal that had actually been consumed by a teacher. Would we?


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