Juneau organizations to introduce free elementary school breakfast program

    A concerted effort by the Juneau School District, the United Way of Southeast Alaska, and the Juneau Community Foundation will result in a free breakfast program at elementary schools next school year.

    Posted Monday, May 23rd, 2016 5:20pm by Lance David

    A concerted effort by the Juneau School District, the United Way of Southeast Alaska, and the Juneau Community Foundation will result in a free breakfast program at elementary schools next school year.

    Officials of those organizations were guests on Action Line Monday.

    The program will be expanded in August when school starts.  The district will support a universal breakfast program at Gastineau, Glacier Valley and Riverbend Elementary Schools, along with a program at the alternative high school.

    Funding from the United Way and the community foundation will provide breakfast at Harborview and Mendenhall River Elementary Schools, Juneau Community Charter School and Montessori Borealis.  Funding will also be provided to Auke Bay Elementary for grab and go breakfasts.

    "All of the other schools will have a choice of a cold and hot entree each day, along with some fruit selections and a choice of two different types of milk," says Adrianne Schwartz, the school district's food services supervisor. "And Auke Bay School will have some food items available for students who get to school hungry and need something to eat to start their day off on the right foot."

    Wayne Stevens, the president of the United Way of Southeast Alaska, explained how the program came together.

    "It's been in the making for a number of years now," Stevens began. "Faith-based communities and churches have been fundraising and working with schools to provide hot breakfast programs, summer lunch programs, and weekend backpack programs. United Way has been involved with the Food Resource Committee for about five years, and we've been holding conversation about the varying programs and trying to bring some cohesiveness to that sort of shotgun-scattered approach of everybody doing something for somebody but nobody being focused on the endgame, which is making sure there is no food insecurity in our community. That starts in the schools."

    Amy Skilbred, the executive director of the Juneau Community Foundation, recalled a conversation with Riverbend Principal Michelle Byer.

    "She said that their school had a mission statement based around education language, and she came into the school as a new principal and said, "We need to figure out what our mission really is here." She talked to the kids and their school came up with one thing as a highlight for what they think about when thinking about school, and that was, "a place I get to eat." And so, they changed their mission statement to, "Riverbend School is a safe place where we feed our minds, bodies, and hearts.""

    Plans are underway to forge a program with local grocery stores to provide kids with food during the summer and school breaks.

    A Backpack Program, to provide food for kids who need it on the weekend, will also be funded.

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