Boston: Breakfast Perks Up Perkins Elementary Students
At the Michael J. Perkins Elementary School, in Boston, Principal Craig Martin operates a successful Breakfast After the Bell program. With 94% of Perkins students eligible for free and reduced-price meals, the school’s robust breakfast program ensures that all students are starting their day on a full stomach. Perkins’ commitment to food security for their students goes beyond their redbrick walls.
On Wednesday, June 21st, Representative Nick Collins (D-4th Suffolk), Executive Director of Food Service and Nutrition for Boston Public Schools, Laura Benavidez, and members from The Greater Boston Food Bank, the Eos Foundation, and others, observed the breakfast after the bell program at Perkins Elementary School.
“Here at Perkins Elementary, it’s more than just providing nutritious food in the school, but we’re also educating parents about how to make better choices about food in their homes. I’m grateful for Breakfast After the Bell. This might be the most stable meal that my students have all day. It’s all about access to quality food that can make kids thrive all day long. If the food is good, kids will eat it. If kids eat it, they’ll learn and thrive.” – Principal Craig Martin
Every morning, BPS Food and Nutrition Services staff members assemble boxes of healthy meals for each classroom. Student leaders, a competitive position of responsibility, rush to pick up their classroom’s boxes. Students then choose from an assortment of fruits, cereal, milk, and when they’re lucky, French toast – although the school favorite seems to be the egg and cheese sandwiches, one of several hot meal options offered on a weekly basis.
Teachers take attendance, Principal Martin delivers the morning announcements, students filter into the classroom, enjoy some morning reading, socialize with their classmates, and recite the Perkins Elementary School Pledge: “We love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all, we love each other.”
Once all morning business has concluded, the students are responsible for cleaning up after themselves before their teacher wipes down the desks, and the instructional day continues, now with full bellies and attentive minds.
Perkins Elementary offers a shining example of how to effectively implement breakfast programs with limited space and resources, a model that other Boston Public Schools might look to.
“The Boston Public Schools Department of Food and Nutrition Services is always looking for innovative ways to make sure our students are receiving healthy and delicious meals to make sure they are well fed and ready to learn. At this time, BPS is in the beginning stages of understanding how the Breakfast After the Bell program could be utilized in our district.” – Laura Benavidez, Executive Director
With about 50,000 students in BPS schools, Breakfast After the Bell programs have the potential to feed thousands of children breakfast effectively and efficiently every school day.