PUBLISHED: 4:50 PM on Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Juneau Education Support Staff supports school breakfast programs across district
To help curb hunger and establish better learning conditions, members of the Juneau Education Support Staff contributed $2,000 to help provide breakfast to children each school morning this past school year.

Most of the breakfast programs were funded through contributions from organizations such as JESS whose leadership voted to help serve hungry youngsters. The money went to 10 schools, including Riverbend Elementary.

JESS is affiliated with the Alaska Public Employees Association/American Federation of Teachers and represents custodians, paraprofessionals, maintenance workers, school nurses and administrative staff throughout the school district.

Courtesy photo
  Juneau Education Support Staff member and Riverbend Elementary School employee Karen Eriksen, left, with JESS president and Juneau-Douglas High School employee Chet Durand.
Every day during the school year, more than 75 students crowded into Riverbend Elementary School for a breakfast of milk and cereal, hot oatmeal, fruit and waffles. It was their first meal of the day.

The scene was similar in the other schools where a number of children who didn't get breakfast at home arrived at school hungry. The reasons varied; however, most came from families with a low income who could not stretch their limited dollars to pay for basic needs.

"We see first hand everyday how hunger impacted students and their ability to learn," said Chet Durand, president of the JESS chapter.

"Kids, especially younger ones, have to have breakfast. We are in a position to make a difference, and we wanted to help as individuals and as a union."

The JESS contribution was evenly distributed to each school to help provide breakfast to hungry students throughout the school year.