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Wichita schools look to expand breakfast options

January 12, 2019

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More Wichita students are taking part in school breakfast programs as the district works to ensure students don’t start the school day hungry, which advocates say can lead to diminished learning and behavioral issues.

Ten Wichita middle and high schools offer extended serving times in cafeterias, grab-and-go breakfasts from carts or kiosks, and breakfast after homeroom or first period, The Wichita Eagle reported .

Hungry students have difficulties learning, decreased attendance and more behavior issues, anti-poverty nonprofit group Kansas Appleseed said in a report released in May 2018. The group urged schools to offer alternative service models to overcome timing, convenience and stigma that may prevent children from eating breakfast at school.

The Wichita school district is serving about 1,000 additional breakfasts a day at the schools, which is a 45 percent increase, according to David Paul, the district’s director of nutrition services.

About 75 percent of the district’s nearly 51,000 students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

The district previously opted out of offering breakfast initiatives because of financial and logistical concerns. Alternative breakfast options debuted at Brooks Magnet Middle School in 2016. The school saw breakfast service increase from 100 meals a day to 300 meals after offering breakfast after first period.

The district plans to collect data from participating schools to see if there’s an improvement in test scores, absences and behavior. Participating schools include Cloud Elementary; Brooks, Coleman, Curtis and Mayberry middle schools; and East, North, South, Southeast and West high schools.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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