Waukesha School Committee To Discuss Breakfast Surveys

Waukesha School Committee To Discuss Breakfast Surveys

Story from patch.com written by Patch Staff

The Waukesha School District will survey parents from eight schools not offering free breakfast.

WAUKESHA, WI — A survey to gauge interest at eight Waukesha schools for offering free breakfast could be on a school committee agenda as soon as March 7, according to James Sebert, Waukesha school district superintendent.

The district’s administration announced plans to survey parents from those eight schools: Meadowbrook Elementary Summit View elementary, Bethesda Elementary, Rose Glen Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Prairie Elementary, Randall STEM Elementary School, and Saratoga STEM Middle School.

“Our plan is to bring a draft survey to our Facilities and Finance Committee on March 7 for the committee’s considered approval and then to the full board for their considered approval at their March 9 Meeting,” Sebert told Patch.

The survey could then be sent to parents after it receives board approval.

School board members, in August, reversed their 5-4 June decision to opt-out of a federal free meals program during a special School of Education meeting.

The district faced national backlash over the board’s decision to forgo an extension of the Seamless Summer Option. Waukesha was the only district in the state to opt-out of the federal meal program that provides free lunch and breakfast to all students without income requirements.

On Aug. 30, the school board voted to go back to the Seamless Summer Option.

The Waukesha School District has lost $325,000 in federal funding over the last 19 months by not providing free breakfast for eight schools, said Darren Clark, assistant superintendent for business services.

Children Need Breakfast

Boy with food

Waukesha parent Monica Rettschlag said while her children don’t need the free breakfast, others in the district do.

“25 % of our school [Summit View] is low income which qualifies for free and reduced lunch,” she told Patch.

Rettschlag is Summit View’s Parent Teacher Organization co-president and the school liaison for Blessings in a Backpack, a children’s food charity. She coordinates Blessing’s deliveries, which provide weekend food to elementary school children. The program was first implemented at the school in September 2021.

To bring awareness, Blessings gave a bag to every student with an opt-out form.

"We have about 466 students who attend Summit View and 230 are in Blessings in a Backpack," Rettschlag said.

She said the staff at Summit View are incredible and would never let a student go hungry. But extra resources such as breakfast would come in handy.

“Summit View wants breakfast at the school,” Rettschlag said, adding that several teachers often ask for extra bags of food for hungry students.

The front office is also stacked with food for students in need, but Rettschlag said it can be a hassle for children to obtain it. It takes time to walk the three-story building, and a student would need to ask a teacher, then ask another staff member once they reached the office. It means taking time away from class and also going through many channels to get breakfast or a snack.

“You can only imagine how much shame that places on a child, having to speak up and advocate for themselves and ask for food,” she said.

Rettschlag said there is a push for better performance in schools, but she wondered how a student can be successful when they are hungry.

She recently helped out with a party at the school by serving banana splits. She had two students ask if they could take a banana home with them, she said.

“If basic needs of health and safety are not met, how are they supposed to absorb the education and do well on a test?”Rettschlag asked.