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 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

(Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast for the week of Nov. 27

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Girls teams face off on the twin courts of the main gym at Juneau-Douglas Kalé High School during the Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza on Oct. 15, 2022. The Juneau Board of Education on Friday unanimously voted to seek advice from outside council on a new state policy banning transgender girls from high school sports teams. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
School board unanimously votes to seek outside legal advice on new statewide transgender sports ban

Juneau reportedly first district to take step that may lead to lawsuit challenging policy.

A Capital City Fire/Rescue truck parks outside the main entrance of the Riverview Senior Living complex Monday after Nathan Bishop, 58, is found alive in the attic 40 hours after being reported missing from the facility where he is a resident. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
State reviewing Riverview Senior Living after missing resident found in attic 40 hours later

Officials unaware of similar cases in Alaska; facility says steps to prevent such incidents underway

Search and rescue officials examine the area about 11 miles south of the center of Wrangell where a landslide occurred on Nov. 20. Five people are confirmed dead from the landslide and one still missing. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Public Safety)
Body of fifth Wrangell landslide victim found; one person still missing

Otto Florschutz, 65, found Thursday evening; Derek Heller, 12, still missing among family of five.

Varieties of kelp are seen underwater. A U.S. Department of Energy-funded project will investigate whether kelp and other seaweed in the waters off Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island can absorb significant amounts of rare earth elements that leach out from the Bokan Mountain site. (National Marine Sanctuary photo provided by NOAA)
Federally funded project will search for rare earth elements in Southeast Alaska seaweed

What if prized rare earth elements could be extracted from seaweed, avoiding… Continue reading

Angie Flick (center), finance director for the City and Borough of Juneau, provides details of an early draft of next year’s municipal budget to Assembly members as City Manager Katie Koester (left) and Budget Manager Adrien Wendel listen during a Finance Committee meeting Wednesday night in the Assembly Chambers. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members prepare to retreat so they can move ahead on next year’s budget

“Very draft” $190 million spending plan for FY25 based on status quo has $1 million deficit.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Monday, Nov. 27, 2023

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

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Nov. 30, 2005. (Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Dec. 3

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Cheyenne Latu (left), a pharmacy technician at Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe, and business co-owner Gretchen Watts hang a poster at the front counter Thursday announcing the store’s closure after Dec. 6 as Jessica Kirtley, another pharmacy technician, works at the front register. The nearby Safeway supermarket has agreed to take the prescriptions of all customers as well as hire all of the independent pharmacy’s employees, according to the co-owners who are retiring. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe closing after nearly 50 years as co-owners retire; last day is Dec. 6

Safeway taking over all prescriptions and offering jobs to all employees, according to owners.

Most Read