Board OKs breakfast program at Long River

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REGION 16 — In a few weeks time, Long River Middle School students will be able to grab a quick breakfast before the school day starts.

The Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, approved a new breakfast program for the middle school at its Oct. 9 meeting.

Superintendent of Schools Tim James said the program is expected to start in mid-November.

When the program begins, students will be able to head to the cafeteria once the school is open to them and get a cold breakfast, such as a muffin and juice. Students will have to eat their breakfast in the cafeteria before heading to homeroom.

The school board set the price for a breakfast at $1.50. Students who receive a free or reduced lunch will also be eligible for a free or reduced breakfast.

The catalyst for the program came in September. The board was informed last month that Long River is eligible this school year for a $3,000 state grant to help offset the cost of running the program. To qualify for the grant, at least 20 percent of lunches served at a school two years before receiving the grant must have been served to students receiving free or reduced lunch. In the case of Long River, 21.3 percent of the lunches served in the 2011-12 school year were free or reduced, Victoria Biello, director of food services, explained in an email last month. 

Biello told the board last week there isn’t strong participation in breakfast programs across the state, but that the breakfasts will be there for students who need it. Biello said she believes students need a healthy breakfast to do well academically.

The $3,000 state grant will not cover the full cost of the breakfast program. However, school officials are projecting the program will either break even or turn a slight profit. Any profit would go back into the district’s food services budget, James said. The school board will review how the program is doing in January, James added.

Board member Robert Hiscox said the program doesn’t need to be a money-making one, but it can’t lose money either. He felt the program can be beneficial because eating breakfast will help students perform in the classroom. However, he said, if it’s losing money and proves to be too difficult to handle logistically the board may have to consider stopping it in January.