Student Perspective: Breakfast in Class

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Rachel Ledoux, Writer

This is a part of a student perspective series by Rachel Ledoux.

On any given morning, Bellows Free Academy’s connector and cafeteria host a breakfast distribution spot, where students and staff can get various breakfast items at the beginning of the school day. Some choose to eat their meals at tables in the connector and cafeteria. Some, though, choose to eat their breakfasts in class. 

This has sparked issues in some classrooms due to teachers not wanting their students to eat during lessons, and The Mercury recently got the opportunity to see both sides of the debate.

Most mornings, breakfast is available starting at 7:00 a.m. and is served until a little after 7:30 a.m. or 8:10 a.m., depending on the school start time. According to a recent survey conducted by The Mercury, approximately 30% of the 85 students who completed the survey say that they have taken advantage of the provided breakfast before school. However, not all students and staff can agree on when and where students should be allowed to eat their breakfast.

“I’ve heard many teachers don’t let kids eat first period, even if the breakfast comes from school. I think that’s wrong because students need to have a full stomach in order to learn.” Quinn Stanley (‘24) said.

This was a common thread amongst student responses, with several students expressing a lack of understanding as to why first period or beginning-of-the-day teachers don’t allow students to eat breakfast in their classrooms. 

According to some students, this comes from a place of ignorance on teachers’ parts.

“Students won’t be able to learn if all they’re thinking about is how hungry they are,” Ashley Seymour (‘22) said. Seymour added, “They have breakfast in the connector until the bell rings, so students can grab their breakfast and go to class to eat it, whether that be because they didn’t have time that morning, or they don’t have access to breakfast at home.”

According to a survey given to staff members by The Mercury, which 25 staff members responded to, there are teachers who agree with the sentiment that having breakfast is an important part of a student’s day.

“We know that food can have an impact on students’ ability to focus, and we know that many students do not have adequate access to food at home, so it’s important to me that they have an opportunity to eat breakfast at school,” Bellows Free Academy World Languages teacher Kat Salemno said.

This was seconded by BFA social studies teacher Justin Bedell, who said that he teaches beginning-of-the-day classes every day of the week. 

“The brain works best when the body has nourishment and hydration. If a student, also, cannot eat at home for any reason, but they can eat here at school, then why not eat here?” Bedell said.

However, while most students seem to believe that breakfast should be a guarantee, some don’t think it should be offered at school at all. According to Aidan Forbes (‘24), “As young adults we should be able [to go] without one meal a day.”

Some students also recognized the possible issue of Covid safety when students take their masks off to eat breakfast, with Leeza Kusmit (‘24) saying that, “If people want to eat breakfast at school, they should eat six [feet] away from other people.”

This was a concern amongst teachers, as well, and some noted that they try not to compromise safety by letting students eat.

“I [ask] that [students] put their masks on as soon as they are done, and I am fortunate that most students who eat breakfast have a table to themselves and are generally not within 6 feet of others,” BFA mat teacher Nellie Dawson said. Dawson added, “[And] in my extra full class later on in the day, I do not allow eating.”

One interesting disparity between The Mercury’s student survey and staff survey on this issue is the number of teachers who allow their students to eat breakfast. 

Of the students surveyed, about 50% said that their first period or beginning-of-the-day teachers don’t always allow them to eat, or that they are unclear about rules regarding breakfast in class. 

However, of the teachers surveyed, about 88% of the 25 respondents said that they typically allow students to eat breakfast in the morning.