This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
At 6:30 a.m. every school day, a crew consisting of two cafeteria workers and one community volunteer begin the process of cooking and sorting breakfast for each of the 525 students at H.A. Brown School in Philadelphia’s Kensington section.
About two hours later a crate arrives in each of the school’s home rooms stocked with the meal of the morning.
There’s no cafeteria line. And no requirement to arrive early.
As soon as students sit down in the morning they’ve got a worksheet and a bite in front of them.
This "in-class feeding" model, as Principal Connie Carnivale calls it, has made Brown one of 40 public schools in Philadelphia where more than 70 percent of students eat the free breakfast provided by the school district. When Carnivale arrived at Brown five years ago, breakfast was served before the school day began and only about 30 percent of students participated, she said.
"We knew we had to adjust our system," said Carnivale.
The district wants all of its 220 schools to eclipse the 70-percent threshold for breakfast participation.