Cover illustration by Kari Trail
On Monday, the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) announced that it would provide free meals to all students and children under the age of 18, beginning immediately. Although schools are in distance learning, their campuses have remained open throughout the pandemic for essential services like meal distribution.
According to the full announcement on the District’s meal services website, the expansion of the program will allow students and parents to pick up multiple meals at a time. Furthermore, the District will provide free meals to children who are not yet high school students.
“The goal here [is] to feed as many kids as possible,” said Food Services Director Nora Decaro.
Although approximately 36% to 40% of SUHSD students traditionally qualify for free and reduced lunch, the expanded food services will allow students who would not have previously qualified to access meal services. Decaro explained, “This is also to help families who may not necessarily have needed the program [before] the circumstances of not being able to go to work or pay your bills. It’s here to ease that financial burden on everybody who has school age children and to make sure that kids get the necessary nutrition.”
The expansion of food services came as a result of new federal guidelines authorizing and funding the program through the end of the calendar year. The new federal guidelines included several waivers that will allow the District to reach more students with food services. For instance, one waiver authorized providing free meals to all students even if less than 50% of a school district’s students qualify for free meals, as is the case in SUHSD. Since school food services are a part of the National School Lunch Program, SUHSD’s expanded lunch services will be reimbursed by the federal government and will not require extra funds from the District.
“We would love to serve students. We haven’t had a huge turnout,” said DeCaro. M-A’s meal service provides breakfast and lunch on Mondays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, go to https://suhsdfoodservice.org/.