Bloomfield school implements new breakfast program

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Many students who attend a Bloomfield elementary school qualify for a free breakfast. 

But many of those students aren’t able to get the meal because it is served before the morning school bell and they are not able to get to the school early.

Berkeley Elementary School is now implementing a new program called “Breakfast after the bell” through a partnership with Partners for Health. The school held an informational meeting about the program Wednesday.

Parents and students lined up at outdoor tables at the school to learn more. Twenty computers were set up to enroll the eligible students in the pilot program.

“Before the program actually started, we were only servicing 17 percent of our children eating before school. When we had 67 percent of our population eligible to eat,” says Principal Dr. Natasha Baxter. “Having the program now after the children are actually in school will allow for 100 percent of our children to be exposed to actual being able to eat once they come to school.”

Baxter says that the students will come to school, and then go to their class. They will then be able to go get their breakfast, depending on grade level.

Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed a bill that requires “Breakfast after the bell” programs be implemented in schools where 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. It will help 500 schools and 308,000 students.

"The children will be able to come to class and be able to concentrate on a full stomach instead of going to the nurse because they their stomach is growling,” says Baxter. “Most importantly it will build their self-confidence because it takes out the element of being worried when they're going to eat, where their next meal is coming from because now the school will provide that for them."

Bloomfield joins Newark and East Orange in providing the program.

Hunger advocates say that this is a big step forward.

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