News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.

A Great Beginning with Breakfast in the Classroom

by Arlene Bury

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El Monte


Pictured from left to right – Violeta Gutierrez, Victoria Martinez, Nellie Garcia,
Lorena Quezada, Dr. Robert Lewis Mayor Quintero, Nikki Edwards and Manaya Alonzo.

Sixth grader Violeta Gutierrez started off the Breakfast in the Classroom celebration with a beautiful acapella version of the Star-Spangled Banner.  She and fifth grader Manaya Alonzo served as the ceremony hostesses for the impressive event at Wilkerson School.
Making Breakfast a Priority was the theme and reason for EL Monte City School District to celebrate.  Local dignitaries included El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero, City Councilmember Victoria Martinez, Superintendent Maribel Garcia, former Superintendent Jeff Seymour, EMCSD board members Bob Cruz, Cathi Eredia,  and Jessica Ancona.  California state dignitaries included Sandip Kaur, Director of Nutrition Services Division, California Department of Education and Peter Wright, Policy and Programs Officer, California School Boards Association.  Olivia Lee, Field Representative for Assemblymember Ed Chau was also in attendance.
Nikki Edwards, event organizer from California Food Policy Advocates, greeted everyone and thanked Principal Juan Munoz for graciously welcoming everyone to his school. Visitors were then escorted by students into classrooms to get a first-hand look at Breakfast in the Classroom.
Upon entering the classrooms, it was evident that students were quite comfortable with the process of passing out food and drink.  They ate at their desks chatting quietly while enjoying one of their favorite breakfast selections which included a whole grain conchita (Mexican bread), a bag of red grapes and a carton of 1% milk.  Some classrooms offered activities for students to engage in while eating their breakfast. One kindergarten class offered the breakfast as part of a learning center activity.
Teacher Minerva Garcia is grateful for the Breakfast in the Classsroom (BIC) program.  She recalled having to keep almonds and dried fruit in her desk for those students who were hungry hours before lunch.  She likes BIC because she says it builds community – students talk among themselves in a family eating situation that many students wouldn’t otherwise get to experience. She claims that her students stay more engaged during the day because they are not experiencing distracting hunger pangs.
Timoteo Tuj and his wife Margarita, Wilkerson parents, like the BIC program because they see their children eating more fruits and vegetables because of it.
Yesenia Rios , another parent, sees a big change.  She said, “More kids are eating breakfast now.  Some of the kids couldn’t eat breakfast before because of their parent work schedules.”
BIC event hostesses, Violeta and Manaya, said they especially enjoy eating breakfast with their friends each morning.
The festivities continued after the classroom visits with the California Action for Healthy Kids’ Breakfast Hero Award presented by Mayor Quintero to EMCSD Food Service Director Dr. Robert Lewis and Breakfast Champion Awards to Project Coordinator Lorena Quesada and Operation Coordinator Nellie Garcia.
Each speaker – Mayor Quintero, Superintendent Garcia, Principal Juan Munoz, Dr. Robert Lewis, teacher and parent Minerva Garcia and students Violeta and Manaya gave a different perspective to the importance of BIC.
Sandip Kaur, Director of California Department of Education Nutrition Services, asked this rhetorical question to the large audience, “What does success look like?”  She answered her own question with, “This is what success looks like.” She referred to the Breakfast in the Classroom program and all of the outstanding nutrition programs at El Monte City School District.
Success comes with amazing accomplishments brought on by collaboration between a city, a mayor, a school district, a school board, a food service staff, principals,  parents, teachers and students.   Wow!  How could that result in anything but success?
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News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.
A Great Beginning with Breakfast in the Classroom