… so exclaimed one attendee of the Breakfast in the Classroom breakout session, during the Q-and-A that followed our panel of presenters at LAC 2011. The declaration was met with a roomful of smiles and a long, loud round of applause. Breakfast—it’s contagious!
The Breakfast in the Classroom breakout session was the first one I attended during my week at the 2011 Legislative Action Conference. The panel included: Casey Dinkin (FRAC), Nora Howley (NEA HIN ), Rosario Casiano (Principal, William Ramsey Elementary, Alexandria, VA ) and Barry Sackin(inTeam Associates ). Attendance for the Breakfast in the Classroom session was excellent; in fact, it was standing room only by the time our panelists were introduced. What I liked best about this format for presenting information was the “360 degree” perspective it offered: Casey gave the issue a framework, with useful advice on how to persuade principals and administrators to implement in-classroom breakfast programs; Nora followed, sharing her personal story with using free/reduced programs when her children were young, and stressing the importance of taking care of “the whole child”; Rosario charmed the crowd with her experiences implementing in-classroom breakfast in her district, sharing a story about how excited her kids got about breakfast after a power outage—not how excited they were about the return of electricity, but about getting breakfast; Barry inspired the group by explaining how he took his successes as a school food director as a springboard to a new career as a consultant, replicating and spreading that success in other classrooms.
The question-and-answer session that followed the presentations proved invaluable. The audience was engaged and excited, ready to ask questions about implementation and understand as much as possible so that they could take information back to the classrooms and cafeterias of their own schools. While everyone had different concerns—accountability, the impact of the new meal pattern, custodial/pest management issues, instructional time, academic benefits, menuing, delivery, and the food service director’s role as a “food safety net”—the reality is that each of these players cares deeply about feeding children.
Tune in to Beyond Breakfast all week for stories, photos and video from the 2011 LAC in Washington, D.C.