Signing up for a free school lunch doesn’t just provide a tasty, nutritious meal for students, it allows the school to receive much-needed government funding.
The state recently changed its funding system for schools so that each student enrolled in the National School Lunch Program generates over $1,700 of additional instructional funding for their school. Dr. Louise Johnson, superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School district (NJUHSD), urges parents to apply for the program.
“These are critically needed funds to continue and expand the great programs at our schools,” Johnson said in a news release.
The process is much simpler than in the past. Many districts offer the ability to sign up online in a safe, secure and private environment. Although primarily income based, various household scenarios allow students to qualify.
In the high school district, qualifying students join the same breakfast/lunch line as the other students (paying or not) and provide a student identification number to the server in order to receive a complete meal that meets federal nutrition standards.
Theresa Ruiz, food services director at both Bear River and Silver Springs high schools, thinks this is an important change.
“Nobody knows who is paying and who gets the free lunch — it’s all the same line,” Ruiz said. “And all of the choices are available to everyone.”
Ruiz prides herself on cooking and serving good food that the students will actually eat.
“None of it is pre-packaged — we cook it all on site,” she said. “We have a variety of choices every day (sandwiches, salads, pizza, quesadillas, burritos) along with specials like pulled pork and wraps, and the meal always includes milk, fresh fruit and vegetables. We also serve a hot breakfast every day — we even make the biscuits and banana bread from scratch.”
There are other financial benefits for families who qualify for the lunch program. Qualifying students receive waivers on test fees including the ACT, SAT and AP tests, waiver of college application fees, and free District scholarship applications.
Karen Suenram, assistant superintendent for the NJUHSD, encourages all families to apply, even if they don’t think they will qualify or if students are not interested in eating the meals every day.
“It’s worth it just to apply, because it means so much to our schools, as well as being a great deal for our families,” Suenram said.
Visit the home page of Nevada Joint Union High School District at www.njuhsd.org to find an application for the National School Lunch program. Signing up by Wednesday will help make a difference in this year’s programming.