Akeem Pearce, a Robeson senior, eats lunch in the student lounge shortly after 2:30 p.m.
By the time afternoon periods roll around, Stefanie Siegel struggles to keep her English classes focused on the assignments in front of them. Many of the students haven't eaten since the early morning, or the night before, and they watch the clock for 2:01 p.m.
That's when class ends and lunch begins at Paul Robeson High School, a Crown Heights school in its first year of phasing out.
"I teach a senior English class in the morning and afternoon. Those [afternoon] kids were really hard to deal with, and it was mostly because they were hungry," Siegel said. "My first period was 10 a.m., and that group was much easier to work with. There's just a huge difference."
Students start school at 8:35 a.m. Some hop off campus to buy food after seventh period, shortly after 1 p.m. Siegel said, and many teachers allow them to eat the food at their desks.
"We have some really old-school teachers who say, 'no eating in the class,' but even they have had to allow it," she said.
"If you don't make it for the breakfast program — and a lot of them don't — and if you don't bring something with you, you haven't had any breakfast," she said. "These kids might not have had dinner last night, either."