With the winter break in full effect at Fresno Unified, some students may wonder where they are going to get their next meal.
In an effort that began Monday, any student at Fresno Unified and anyone ages 1 to 18 can get a free lunch through Jan. 6 — with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s Day.
“Working with Fresno EOC, we are happy to be able to provide a healthy meal for students who may struggle over the holidays with having enough food to eat.” — Bob Nelson, Fresno Unified Superintendent
“Our district is committed to supporting our students, even over the winter break,” said Superintendent Bob Nelson. “Working with Fresno EOC, we are happy to be able to provide a healthy meal for students who may struggle over the holidays with having enough food to eat.”
Food Insecurity a Nationwide Problem
With nearly 90 percent of FUSD students eligible for a free-or-reduced-price lunch, district trustee Carol Mills said that food insecurity is a reality for many families.
“Holidays can be hard on many families and we are hopeful the winter break lunch program can provide a nutritious meal for any child 1 to 18
years of age and ease the financial strain on families,” Mills said.
However, when it comes to food insecurity, Fresno Unified is not alone.
Last year, more than 800,000 California students qualified for a free-or-reduced lunch.
What’s more, the USDA administers the National School Lunch Program at an annual cost of $8 billion and serves 31 million American children each day. The goal of the program is to help low-income students succeed in public and private school classrooms by ensuring they have adequate nutrition.
Where To Eat?
The district is providing lunches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at seven of its high schools and Cesar Chavez-Adult School.
The Fresno EOC is delivering lunches at 25 of its locations.
Kids don’t need to register, fill out an application or demonstrate financial need to receive a lunch, said Vanessa Ramirez, Fresno Unified’s public information officer.
“Holidays can be hard on many families and we are hopeful the winter break lunch program can provide a nutritious meal for any child 1 to 18 years of age and ease the financial strain on families.” — Carol Mills, FUSD school board clerk
She noted, however, that kids must eat the meals on site.
Working Together For The Community
This is the second consecutive year FUSD has partnered with EOC to provide free meals during the winter break.
“When we work together, we can reach more people in the community,” said Jon Escobar, Fresno EOC’s interim food service director. “We hope everybody can take advantage of it because it is free.”
The Winter Food Service Program is federally funded and administered by the USDA’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services.
Escobar said he wants every kid in Fresno to know “they are going to get fed.”
“We understand what these meals mean to our children of the community,” Escobar said. “We want to let them know that we are still here for them.”