EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 17, 2013

Pelham schools to offer full breakfast

Pelham schools launch pilot meal program

By John Toole

---- — PELHAM — Some students will have new breakfast options in January.

A pilot program offering a full breakfast will begin Jan. 6 in both Memorial School, which is the district’s middle school, and Pelham High.

For needy families, school officials hope the program will help ensure students get breakfast.

For other families, it could mean savings.

“We are still finalizing the menu, but it will be along the lines of a complete meal,” food service director Kelly Rambeau said yesterday.

Students are able to purchase what Rambeau described as an a la carte breakfast now, paying for individual items that might include milk, a muffin or piece of fruit.

But come January, students will be able to get meals including whole grain waffles, ham and cheese on a whole grain croissant, or sausage breakfast pizza for a single, $1.40 per meal price.

There also will be additional fruit and milk offerings, she said.

The program will let the district provide breakfast options to qualifying families for free or at reduced prices, Rambeau said.

Breakfast for students in families qualifying for reduced prices would cost $1.10.

Federal regulations only permit free and reduced price meals for full meals provided by a district, she said.

That means families can’t get free or reduced breakfast through the a la carte program.

Meanwhile, other families could see savings, too.

Rambeau said a student purchasing breakfast under the a la carte program might spend $1 for a muffin and 60 cents for milk.

“Right then and there, you can be over the $1.40,” she said.

The School Board recently approved the program.

Superintendent Amanda Lecaroz told the School Board there is enough funding in the food service program to offset costs for the pilot project.

The pilot program will run through June to see if there is a need for it, Lecaroz said yesterday.

“We will re-evaluate in June and determine if we will do hot breakfast or go back to a la carte next September,” Lecaroz said.

The district also would consider at that point whether to offer a full breakfast at Pelham Elementary, Rambeau said.

Rambeau estimates about 1,500 students participate in the school lunch program.

She said it’s hard to predict how many will choose to eat breakfast, but that is one of the reasons for conducting the pilot program.

“We have to start somewhere,” she said.

The pilot program coincides with both federal efforts to make sure school meals are more nutritious and studies showing breakfast can improve student focus and learning, she said.

“We wanted to do the pilot to see if we need this in our district,” Rambeau said.