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School breakfast program frustrates teachers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Participation in the state’s school breakfast program has skyrocketed since its reconfiguration in 2013, but grumblings among some teachers show that those numbers alone aren’t necessarily indicative of its success.

While teachers praise the program for feeding hungry children — more than 50 percent of West Virginia students qualify for free or reduced-price meals — many are critical of its implementation, saying its grab-and-go nature eats too much instructional time in the morning.

It’s a delicate, if not sticky, situation to be in, one Kanawha County teacher said ­­— with emphasis on “sticky.”

“We want our students to eat,” said Lucinda Burns, a third grade teacher at Point Harmony Elementary. “They need nutrition, they need breakfast, and that’s good, but it can be disruptive to the classroom if a handful of students are eating while you try to teach.”

Proponents of the program say students with empty stomachs are at a learning disadvantage, and while that may be true, several teachers who reached out to the Daily Mail said letting students eat in the classroom just poses a different set of problems.

“They can’t pay attention and do work while they eat,” Burns said. “At least not to the level they could if they weren’t.”

Food in the classroom also is distracting for teachers, who are tasked with cleaning up if a student makes a mess…

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