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Jul 8, 2019 3:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

National Charity Organization Donates $10,000 To Southampton’s Breakfast In The Classroom Initiative

Patchogue-Medford School District's Breakfast in the Classroom program. Regan Kiembock and other Southampton officials recently visited Patchogue-Medford to observe its program. COURTESY REGAN KIEMBOCK
Jul 9, 2019 2:57 PM

The Southampton School District received a $10,000 donation from a California-based philanthropic organization to help kick start the elementary school’s new Breakfast in the Classroom program, which is slated to begin in the fall.

The check from the Maurice Amado Foundation, a national nonprofit whose mission is to serve people at risk, will cover major costs to start the new initiative in elementary school classrooms.

“It’s just amazing to have that support and literally not solicit. It shows overwhelming support to start this program,” said Regan Kiembock, the district’s director of food services. “I felt like I won the lottery.”

Breakfast in the Classroom will offer a free and nutritious breakfast to all elementary school students regardless of their financial status in order to ensure that no student starts their day on an empty stomach. The meal would be served, eaten and cleared in the classroom, instead of the cafeteria, within the first 15 minutes of the school day. It is an optional program, and students who bring their own breakfast can choose to opt out.

Ms. Kiembock introduced the idea to the School Board last month with the hope of starting it in September. She shared that 56 percent of Southampton’s elementary-age students are enrolled in the free or reduced-price lunch program, and that based on statewide data from the 2017-2018 school year, only about half the number of students in such programs actually eat breakfast.

Since then, she said she received the necessary approvals from Superintendent Nicholas Dyno, Assistant Superintendent for Business Jean Mingot, Elementary School Principal Jaime Bottcher and other elementary school staff to move forward. A formal approval from the board is not required, but Ms. Kiembock said she would still like their support.

Maurice Amado Foundation Board of Directors President Susan Malcolm was the person who decided to use some of the charity’s funds toward the initiative. She said she reached out to Hunger Solutions New York, a statewide nonprofit committed to reducing hunger, to ask if there were any school districts exploring a Breakfast in the Classroom type of model, and they connected her with Ms. Kiembock.

Ms. Malcolm, a yoga teacher based in New York City, started looking into supporting the cause after reading profiles of recent scholarship recipients who were graduating high school students. One of the scholarship requirements was that applicants had to have faced or overcome some type of hardship, and many of them said they experienced hunger throughout their childhood, she said.

“These are people who were hungry from the time they entered school until now, when they’re going off to college. And it really dawned on me—what a shitty way to live a life in America when there’s so much damn food,” Ms. Malcolm said.

Breakfast in the Classroom will cost the district about $11,000 to hire a part-time worker to assist with the program and about $2,100 for materials, including rolling carts and food delivery bags, so the donation would cover most of those fees.

The district would also need to purchase all the food, but those costs would be reimbursed based on federal and state reimbursement rates for free and reduced-price meals. Because of the reimbursed funds, Ms. Kiembock expects the district to come out about $9,700 ahead each year.

“I’m just thrilled at the idea that fewer children won’t go through their school year hungry,” Ms. Malcolm said of the program. “It just means the world to me as a parent, as a grandparent. I have a 2½-year-old granddaughter, and the idea that she would go to school hungry is heartbreaking.”

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45k a kid and they accepted a donation? They should give it to an inner city school
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 11, 19 12:17 AM
seems odd..... pretty hefty budget over there.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Jul 15, 19 6:41 AM