Thursday, August 22, 2013

CMS breakfast details fall to schools

Starting Monday,  we'll see how Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools'  new  "free breakfast for all"  program plays out.

Each school is crafting its own strategy for getting food into the hands of hundreds of students,  then getting them to quickly shift gears to learning.  At Elizabeth Traditional Elementary,  where the bus drop-off is nowhere near the cafeteria,  a breakfast kiosk will be in place so kids can grab their food and head to class,  said Amy Harkey,  assistant director of child nutrition.  Some schools will use variations on that  "grab-and-go"  approach,  while others will have children eat in the cafeteria.

The district acknowledges there will be challenges,  from the trash that's generated to the demand on teacher time,  especially now that there are fewer assistants to help with the youngest kids.  One teacher emailed to say he'd been told everyone had to report 15 minutes early to handle breakfast,  but the principal later rescinded that order.

The school board approved the plan in hopes that kids who start their day with a nutritious meal will be better learners.  In the past,  CMS provided free breakfast for students who qualified for income-based lunch aid.  The national No Kid Hungry campaign urges districts to provide breakfast for everyone to eliminate the stigma.  At this week's back-to-school briefing,  Harkey noted that some students go hungry because their families are in a hurry,  not because they can't afford food.

"Students do show up to school hungry,  and hungry students can't learn,"  she said.  "Breakfast is part of the educational day."

Research on the benefits of free school breakfasts is squishy,  in part because no district uses biscuits and bagels as its only strategy to improve education. But CMS leaders hope the new program will get almost 148,000 preK-12 students off to a good start.

CMS has enough students who qualify for federal lunch and breakfast subsidies that it can afford to provide breakfast to all students at no charge,  without dipping into local or state money.  The child nutrition budget is separate from the CMS operating budget,  which means money can't be pulled from teachers,  supplies and other operating costs to cover food  --  or vice versa.


havermeyer said...

3... 2... 1... and we wonder why some parents don't engage in the education of their children. It seems the state is always there to provide the least path of resistance to irresponsibility.

Wiley Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wiley Coyote said...

148,000 students?

CMS is expecting an additional 4,000+ students this year?

They had 143,866 last year (2012/2013 per their data) including pre-K.

amy said...

This is ridiculous. To tall we go with yet "another program".

Anonymous said...

I consider myself fairly liberal and generally support of programs for the needy. However this program is ridiculous and a waste of taxpayer money. Already the students at my school who were eating free - throw away more breakfast than they eat. Many admit they already ate, but come to the cafeteria just to socialize. Big time waster, pulls off staff for supervision, creates an area for student conflict if supervision is lax - just a bad idea all around.

Anonymous said...

What's even more unbelievable and ridiculis is the lunch schedules they set up at schools. My daughter will certainly eat breakfast at home, I guess have the option of a free grab/go item at school when she gets there and then get this eat lunch a little over an hour later after school starts @ 10:30. School doesn't end until 4:15.

misswhit said...

Love it--they don't have to dip into any local or state money. Of course using (and wasting) federal money doesn't count against us taxpayers because it's "free"--Right????

Carol S. said...

This is laughable. CMS could handle this another way. I believe this will help the students at the early start schools (7:15, 7:45am) because those are the students who don't have time to eat a proper breakfast in the morning. They are also the students who don't perform their best due to 1)not eating breakfast and 2) lack of Pediatrician recommended 9 hours of sleep.

Change the school start times, and none of this would be necessary.

Anonymous said...

This might be a dumb question but who are the kids who are coming to school without eating anything for breakfast?

Anonymous said...

8:37 You are correct. My daughter is at Comm house middle school. There are so many students there (almost 1600 this year?) that they have to start lunch early in the day to accommodate the masses. Ridiculous. Guess I don't have to feed her breakfast anymore and 2 hours later she'll be eating lunch.

Shamash said...

Gee, now why did I get up and fix breakfast for my son this morning?

Oh yeah, because I'm a parent...

I guess if I didn't do that, someone from a nearby "fraternity" would do it for us.

I can see how why it takes a village to raise a child.

For some people.

Shamash said...

Maybe the ultimate solution is to combine the school buses with a food truck.

That way, the kids could get a hot breakfast ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL.

(I may regret suggesting this when I see the first school bus towing a Taco Bell food trailer behind it)

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:57

The same kids who will have a "male stand-in" walk them to school next Monday.

Anonymous said...

Carol S., While I agree with you about the ridiculous early start times I can't agree that students at those schools are necessarily the ones not performing well. Providence Springs has an early start time and look at their scores! Apparently most of those parents have the time and the common sense to get their kids to bed at a decent hour and feed them breakfast, even with that early start time.

Shamash said...

Carol S.,

Funny, though, how MY child who starts school at 7:15 manages to get a breakfast every morning, at least nine hours of sleep, and is in the Gifted/Talented program at his school.

So, what's OUR EXCUSE?

Oh yeah, we're the "wrong demographic" I guess.

We belong to that weird demographic which goes to bed on time, studies, and cooks breakfast.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I said a few months back. How is CMS going to make the program work? How will it be a success for those that need it? CMS has simply no idea YET the BOE asked no questions and rubber stamped the approval of this mess at first glance. Terrible management top down you create your own mess Heath and Mary now you gotta sleep in it. Or I guess we the tax payers do. Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...


My father always told me that to protect your family if someone is breaking into your house, "shoot first and ask questions later".

CMS is using the same premise: "take the money first and figure it out later".

Of course we all know the reasoning behind this program is fraught misrepresentation and that test scores won't improve one bit.

Last year, CMS served 94,000 students for lunch and 30,000 for breakfast out of 143,000 students.

I'd love to see the breakout on all this, as to what do the remaining 49,000 do for lunch. Do they bring their own lunch? Will the 30,000 students who are served breakfast now go to 143,000 sin it's a free for all?

You can't make this stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Wiley , Thats awesome and I am with you on your thoughts. CMS certainly has no idea how to offer this program yet the FEDS are going to give them tax payer money. Somebody mentioned a food truck. Maybe they can just have the buses run thru Drive Thru fastfood on the way? Or better yet have the buses run thru after they drop the students then have them run back to school with the unhealthy food. I am sure our BOE can create a formula to say that saves money ? Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

For our parents commenting on what will happen with our late bell folks.
I am sure CMS will roll out a unhealthy brunch offering sponsored by our Federal tax dollars. Push back lunch so its 90 minutes after brunch. Then have the bus leave at 5 pm getting kids home at 6 pm.
Our fabulous school system will have a formula that says this is great for our students. Zero negative affect on their learning patterns. I thing its in the BROAD playbook chapter 6 behind the fuzzy math graduation chapter.
You cannot make this stuff up what a circus act! Keith W. Hurley

Shamash said...


Throw in free Dictaphones (with Dictabelt technology) for all the kids and I'm sold.

After all, free food and technology is THE SOLUTION to all our education problems.

Barb said...

To Shamash 9:29

I am a parent of several CMS high school students. I'm very curious how your child was able to get "at least nine hours of sleep" a night? I am being totally serious. Did he/she go to be before 9pm every night? That is virtually impossible for every high schooler that I know. Our bus comes at 6:20am. Just do the math and assume the child wakes up at 5:45am. That would make for an 8:45pm bed time, which is totally unrealistic for most students who are busy in after school sports, jobs, activities and doing homework. The CMS 7:15am time is awful, and the teachers know it, they see it every morning with despondent students, most not having eaten a proper breakfast or gotten the proper amount of sleep.

CMS high school students would do much better in school socially, emotionally, academically and athletically with a later school start time, such as 8:15 or 8:30am. And have time to eat breakfast and not have to eat a FREE one!

Barb said...

High school students have to be at school to learn. What are the accurate numbers in regards to CMS morning tardy rates for high schools? Will those kids still be able to have their free breakfast?

Attendance rates would improve for first period too with a later school start time.

Anonymous said...

My children are excited about the free breakfast at school this year.

I have to agree with the high school time comments. We moved to the Charlotte area three years ago from NJ. We were shocked to see that the schools started so early. It does not make common sense for the teenaged students, maybe for the parents though.

Shamash said...


My son is a third grader not a high schooler.

And yes, he goes to bed around 9pm and is up around 6:30.

That's 9 and a half hours sleep time.

Not sure what the pediatrician recommends.

We take him to school and let him ride the bus home.

Now, high school is a different problem for some as I understand because the kids stay up so late.

Well, I guess that's the way it goes. Either they get to bed earlier or they lose sleep.

I was up at 6:30 every day for high school as well. Sure, it wasn't fun, but that's what we did.

I was also an honors student, etc., etc.

So it's possible.

Sure, it would have been nice to sleep in until 7:30 or 8:00, or even 9:00 or later as in college.

But, hey, the first job I got the summer before going to college was NIGHT SHIFT, so there are worse schedules out there.

As far as "doing my best" goes, I doubt that the extra sleep would have made much difference considering how lousy the schools were that I attended.

It did help in college, though.

All that being said, I don't have much of an opinion on the school start times. I guess later is better.

I suspect that enough time is wasted in schools that they could probably cut the time down.

Anonymous said...

Shamash, which 7:15am elementary school does your child attend? I wasn't aware of any. The earliest elem start time is 7:45am.

Obviously there is a big difference physically between a child and a teenager. Simple biology, "circadian rhythm" and puberty dictates a teen's sleep pattern. Unfortunately CMS is fighting nature on this one.

Dr. Phil said...

But money for the free breakfast is essentially being pulled from teacher/staff salaries. Who's cooking and serving the food? Who's managing the stock? Who's cleaning up after all the kiddos? Of course CMS funds will be used.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Doc, did you read the last paragraph? It's really not; if there were no such program there would be no more money to hire teachers. You can argue that it will take teacher time in the morning, though. I'll be curious to see how that shapes up.

Shamash said...

We're just South of The Border in SC, so have the earlier start times.

Again, no major problems down here with it that I've heard.

As well as fixing our own breakfasts, either.

As for my "stake" in CMS, I am merely a landlord within its confines at this point.

Though my wife sometimes threatens to move us northward to take advantage of educational opportunities in NC for our chilluns in the future.

When we find them.

(The opportunities, that is, not the chilluns...)

Coulwood said...

Anon 9:18 Providence springs has a "normal" school start time of 8am, I would not classify that as early. I would also suggest that the school demographic (high income whites) are the reason for the high test scores and breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Coulwood. You say what I just don't believe it. Your trying to tell me hard work plus parent involvement equals high test scores? I am not believing that as I just pulled out the PROJECT LIFT play book authored by Ms. Watts and it cannot happen without ten million dollars a year and free breakfast among other perks. I want details of how the Southfield of town is accomplishing this. Don't bother I live on that side and support my schools and children so I know it can happen. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

I just got a mailer from my child's school saying breakfast costs $1.25.

Anonymous said...

Coulwood, I stand corrected on the time, although I think it used to start earlier. And since I see the kids in my neighborhood being picked up at 7:15 for a mile and a half bus ride (crossing a very busy road)I assumed school still started early. Nevertheless the kids still have to get up pretty early to make the bus (and most all do ride the bus). You know, though, you are not being very PC if you claim that having a certain income and being a certain race predict high test scores and breakfasts at home. Or you could be of the liberal mind set that somehow these things happen unfairly for these children because of their high income and race.

Ann Doss Helms said...

5:24, is that in CMS? Other districts are still charging, far as I know, but CMS shouldn't be.

Anonymous said...

Ann, Yes, CMS middle school says breakfast cost $1.25. I have found several other errors in the mailer as well so think it's an oversight. No one to proofread with all the budget cuts?

Anonymous said...

From CMS "The CMS Back-to-School Employee Rally was fully funded by community partners. No district funds were used to support the rally."

Were buses used and gasoline and bus drivers? Teacher workday? I'm pretty sure those would all be district funds. Whatever.

Free Breakfast for everyone.

havermeyer said...

Oh, this is different money. It comes from the butt of a wholly different Obama unicorn. Of course, sequestering this money to replace the responsibilities of parents couldn't possibly be used elsewhere. Only in the make believe land of government and liberals does the notion of opportunity cost not exist.

havermeyer said...

The magic of "other" money.

What happens when the "other" money stops? Or the people decide that the Detroit on the Catawba doesn't have much of future?

Anonymous said...

Can't understand why schools struggle to educate. I mean, maybe it's spending a larger and larger percentage of money on things other than education? Maybe?

Ex-CMS Teacher said...

Awful idea. Most of the food is wasted at the elementary level.

Start times need to change. Kids do not naturally get up at 5:45 AM. This is a problem nationwide, not just at CMS.

Finally, what is on the menu for breakfast? The lunch options were awful last year. There were items many of the students didn't eat because of the quality of the food.

Also, if we're focusing on nutrition, someone tell me why the carrots are floating in ranch dressing. That's not healthy, and some people (like this guy!) would reject them--just the smell of ranch makes me vomit.

Finally--corn is not a vegetable. Neither is a potato. These same sort of mistakes could continue with this breakfast nonsense. Pancakes drenched in syrup aren't the answer plus they're hard to clean. Hash browns will never pass as a vegetable.

In regard to the Taco Bell food truck--I heard they're actually going to stop having kids meals. Maybe that's so they can allocate those portions to food trucks behind/on board CMS buses? :-)

Anonymous said...


District funds WERE used for the "Pep Rally"

Ask CMS how many much they spent on transportation ( bus. fuel and driver) costs to transport staff to Time Warner during a paid workday !

Anonymous said...

Just hand each student a Pop Tart as they are walking into school.

Anonymous said...

6:06 Anon- Frankly the CO does not care to bring that to light. They dont want to bring to light that many people attended after they were told their job is on the line as well. Oh well one positive came out of it. Heath Morrison has a future with the Bobcats/Hornets in promotional marketing if he got 8,000 people to show up well done. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Were CMS teachers really told they had to go or their jobs were on the line?

Anonymous said...

Free breakfast will be a joke. How much food do we have to feed poor people. I worked in the school system. All you had to do was fill out a form saying you hardly made any money and it was approved. No one was allowed to check to make sure you weren't lying. Drive up in a big fancy car but your child ate free for both meals. Every Friday food was handed out to poor children to eat over the weekends. Tell me that does not stigmatize. I saw children giving it away. Another subject but pay attention Charlotte parents. Common core is a horrible thing for our children. North Carolina bought into it to get money while we were in a recession. Our children are going to pay a horrible price for this. Check it out please. We have to get it out of North Carolina.

Anonymous said...

1. Feed the kids on the bus. BOE can hire minority catering companies.
2. Have "lunch" at 9am - use the breakfast money.
3. Breakfast bars and drink boxes. Good enough for zumba mommies, good enough for kids.

Ya gotta laugh. This country is so damn out of whack it is laughable. Especially anyone who thinks this is free. It isn't free.