In Oakland, education doesn't just mean reading, writing, and arithmetic -- it means breakfast and lunch -- and dinner for the parents.
A staggering majority of students at Oakland Unified School District rely on the school system for their daily bread as well as education, with 70 percent of Oakland's public school students receiving free or discounted breakfasts and lunches from their schools, according to the Bay Citizen.
Some 90 Oakland schools provide breakfast for their students, according to the Bay Citizen. Schools also provide an extra to parents picking up their students from school -- bags of food, handed out to parents, provided by food banks, the Web site reported.
"Kids are coming to school hungrier and hungrier,” Allison Rodman, a mother of two students and member of the Oakland School Food Alliance told the Web site.
And that impacts learning. Hungry students don't perform well on their lessons, according to experts. But the free meals also carry an academic price -- students munching and crunching takes away from time otherwise spent on lesson plans, teachers say.
However, for many students in Alameda County, it's eating at school -- or not eating at all. A high school student interviewed by the Bay Citzen, as she grabbed a bag of breakfast on her way into class, said she hadn't eaten dinner the night before. Another student said he'd eaten that morning, but it was a Snickers bar.
"I know the majority of our students, when they leave school, they’re not eating, and if they are eating, quite frankly, it’s bad food," said Jennifer LeBarre, director of nutrition services for the district.