Representatives from the United Way Southeast Alaska, the Juneau School District and the Juneau Community Foundation present a donation to the district on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

Representatives from the United Way Southeast Alaska, the Juneau School District and the Juneau Community Foundation present a donation to the district on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

Donation keeps free school breakfast going

$24,000 check means there’s enough for everyone, for another year

It’s 7:30 a.m. on Friday at Harborview Elementary School, and breakfast is served: whole wheat cinnamon rolls, assorted fruit, a sausage patty and milk.

This week, the meal also came with a check. Juneau Community Foundation and the United Way of Southeast Alaska presented a $24,000 donation on Friday to the Juneau School District for its districtwide breakfast program.

The money bridges the gap between federal dollars, which provide a free breakfast for households that meet federal poverty guidelines, and the cost of offering free breakfast to every middle and elementary school student, Board of Education President Brian Holst said.

The annual difference between the two is about $35,000, according to JCF. Donations are still being accepted.

“Their outside contribution leverages our resources for a benefit that is larger than it would be otherwise,” Holst said.

Students filed into the first floor cafeteria at about 7:40, grabbing green trays and piling on food as Principal Tom McKenna watched. Breakfast lays a base for learning throughout the day, McKenna explained. Students can be squirmy and unfocused if they don’t have food in their bellies, and the younger ones don’t always know how to speak up to let adults know what they need.

“Kids who are coming in with behavior, focus issues, those kinds of things, our first question across the board is what do you need? Now we can say, have you had breakfast? If the answer is no, we can send them down here,” McKenna said.

It’s the second year JSD has had enough money to offer free breakfast for all elementary and middle school students. Aside from boosting focus, a free breakfast for everyone helps cut down on any stigma associated with taking the free meal, Holst said. Without community help, the school district would only be able to offer free food to students whose parents fall within a lower income bracket. Now, everyone eats together.

“The critical piece is that it removes the stigma,” Holst said.

Breakfast supervisor and office assistant Paulette Wilson monitored students as they ate. She said the meal is particularly important for kids who don’t always eat a hot meal.

“We have some kids that have never experienced that kind of food before. … It really helps them,” Wilson said.

Participation has increased when the meal is offered to everyone, said Food Services Supervisor Adrianne Schwartz. On a high day this year, 941 students have attended free breakfasts across the district, Schwartz said. That’s an increase of over a high of about 800 students last school year.

“We’re hoping that as we communicate to the public that this is available, that we’ll continue to have participation in the program,” Schwartz said.

The free breakfast program started in 2014 with a pilot program at Glacier Valley Elementary School. Donations have helped it expand to every elementary and middle school since then. Free breakfasts are available at all the high schools for students who qualify for reduced price meals.


• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


Harborview Elementary School students load up on fruit at a free school breakfast on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

Harborview Elementary School students load up on fruit at a free school breakfast on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 8

Here’s what to expect this week.

Curtis Davis sharpens a spike at his makeshift campsite near Juneau International Airport on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
With no official place to camp, homeless and neighborhoods alike are suffering miseries

Complaints to JPD nearly double, social agencies seek “safety zone,” many campers just want peace.

Alaska Supreme Court Justice Peter Maassen receives applause from his fellow justices and members of the Alaska Legislature during the annual State of the Judiciary address on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy will be asked to pick fourth state Supreme Court justice

Applications being accepted to replace Peter Maassen, who reaches mandatory retirement age next year

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, June 10, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska ranked choice repeal measure wins first round of legal challenge, but trial awaits

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a proposed… Continue reading

Juneau resident Ajah Rose Bishop, 21, suffered severe spinal injuries in a single-vehicle accident early Saturday morning. (GoFundMe fundraiser photo)
Woman breaks spine in single-vehicle collision on Egan Drive early Saturday morning

21-year-old Juneau resident medivaced to Anchorage, online fundraising effort underway.

Shannan Greene (left) and Sharyn Augustine hold signs on April 27 urging residents to sign recall petitions for Juneau Board of Education President Deedie Sorensen and Vice President Emil Mackey due to their roles in a budget crisis for the current fiscal year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
School board recall petitions submitted; supporters of Saturday cruise ship ban need more signatures

Third initiative seeking to repeal default by-mail elections also has 10 days to get more signers.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, June 9, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, June 8, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read