AUBURN — Free breakfast for all Auburn students will continue, without costing more to property taxpayers, Auburn officials promised.
The Auburn School Committee voted Wednesday night to approve the continuation of the so-called universal breakfast, which is free breakfast for all students.
The only committee member who voted against the program was Tracey Levesque, who raised concerns about children being offered sugared cereals and not enough protein at breakfast.
The goal of the program was to encourage more students to eat breakfast and wipe out a stigma that the only students who ate breakfast in school cafeterias were the poor ones, Auburn Food Service Director Paula Rouillard said. By offering free breakfast to all, more students, especially those who likely didn't get breakfast at home, would eat, Rouillard said.
The breakfast program is paid by federal tax dollars. The more students who eat breakfast, the lower the costs per student, and the more federal dollars Auburn receives.
A spring pilot program of free breakfast for all resulted in more students eating at school at break-even costs to Auburn schools, Rouillard said. In May 2012, 21.6 percent of Auburn students ate breakfast compared to 15.7 percent in May 2011.
Levesque said last month she wasn't happy about some of the cereal offered at school. Schools offered unsweetened cereals such as Kix and Cheerios, but on April 23 more students grabbed the sweetened cereals offered. Cocoa Trix seemed to be the most popular, according to trays carried by students. So were Frosted Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Apple Jacks, Trix and Golden Grahams.
Some children were eating at home, then again at school, taking advantage of getting sweetened cereal they don't get at home, which put parents in a bind, Levesque said.
Rouillard told committee members Wednesday that she will work to improve the breakfast menu, searching for healthier options without cost to Auburn taxpayers.