BUFFALO, NY - It's a school food fight of a different kind happening in Buffalo. Breakfast in the Classroom is a program that ensures every child in a school has access to breakfast, no matter their income level.
The Buffalo Teachers Federation has filed a grievance against the Buffalo Public School District claiming that serving breakfast in classrooms creates unsanitary conditions and contributes to teachers performing outside of their contract provisions.
Statistics show - 82% of Buffalo Public School students live below the federal poverty line. Some of those children don't get breakfast at home.
Many school cafeterias don't have the capacity to serve every student breakfast in a 20-minute timeframe.
2 On Your Side's Claudine Ewing spoke with the Teachers Union President about the grievance and why he says the concern is the way the program is implemented in the district. Phil Rumore is not opposed to children having breakfast, "we want each school to sit-down and say what do we need to make this program work so we don't have the messes (and if so) they get cleaned up properly." Rumore says "we don't (want) stinky buckets with milk in them in the classroom, we don't (want) rodents, and we're not taking away from instructional time."
Rumore says the district has presented a written offer and he is confident it will be settled soon. Bottomline, he says, "guarantee (teachers) that if we have a complaint about rodents, there will be somebody there the next day...and that a spill will get taken care of by custodial right away."
Rumore feels teachers shouldn't have to mop up spills in classrooms after children eat or spill milk.
Jessica Bauer Walker serves as health chair of the District Parent Coordinating County, told Ewing, that when spills happen, it can be "a great opportunity to teach children to clean up after themselves and nobody has had issues with pizza parties and birthday parties and the fruit and vegetable program that's in the schools. Many of the younger grades also eat lunch in the classroom."
The District Parent Coordinating Council and Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo is calling on parents, students, and citizens wanting to discuss this issue to join them on Wednesday August 7, 10:30 a.m. outside the BTF office, 271 Porter Avenue, to show their commitment to Breakfast in the Classroom and ask the union to work with them.