SAN ANTONIO — One local school district is finding out more children will eat breakfast if it's delivered to the classroom.
Students at Athens Elementary in South San ISD begin each day with breakfast in class.
It's part of a new pilot program that started the first week of April. Instead of eating in the cafeteria, breakfast is delivered to all students in the classroom.
"We're calling it 'Class Dash at Breakfast,'" said Debra Rice, the Child Nutrition Director for South San ISD. "Research says that if we get breakfast to our students, they are going to perform better on tests, that attendance is better, behavior is better."
Rice says the team took a close look at the numbers to see how many children were eating breakfast at school. The figures they found, she says, showed room for improvement.
"Before where we were missing students that might have just gotten to school on time, they didn't have time to come to the cafeteria," said Rice. "So we're able to feed those students who arrive right on time."
Three schools in the district are participating: Athens Elementary, Kindred Elementary and Kazen Middle School.
Before the pilot program, about 76% of students at Athens were served breakfast. Now, 95% are starting their day with a healthy meal.
"If they have that little brain power, that power goes a long way," said Principal of Athens Elementary, Evelia Montemayor.
Montemayor says teachers and students have embraced Class Dash at Breakfast. She's witnessing positive changes.
"[Students are] more alert, they're participating, they're having more conversations with the teachers than even with their own peers," said Montemayor. "Our tardies went from maybe 15 to 20 tardies a day to about 3 or 4 tardies in the morning."
Antonio Leija and Keilah Antezana, both fourth graders at Athens Elementary, enjoy having breakfast in the classroom.
"I really like it because I get to eat with my friends and I get to talk to the teacher," Leija explained, adding that sometimes he enjoys a second helping other classmates leave on the share table. "People that don't want their breakfast, they put it on the table and we can get it."
"The first meal gives your brain food and it keeps your brain active to learn new things," said Antezana. "Breakfast is my favorite thing!"
After one month, South San ISD decided to roll out the program at all elementary and middle schools next school year.
The district is partnering with the No Kid Hungry campaign to get funding for extra food.
The food and drinks students don't consume won't be thrown away. District officials say extras are donated to the CARE Zone. Staff there will give food to any families who need it in the community.
South San ISD is the latest district to jump on board with breakfast in the classroom. Harlandale ISD has served the meal during class for about 10 years, and SAISD has a similar program.