Nevada Joint Union to provide student meal pick-up through end of school year
After a second extension to the program, the Nevada Joint Union High School District will be providing meals to Nevada County students each week through the end of the academic year.
Any student in the county under 18 years of age, not just students in this district, are eligible to pick up a bag of food each week. Pick-up sites at Nevada Union High School and Bear River High School will be open 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
District Director of Nutrition Services Theresa Ruiz said each student will be able to pick up a weekly bag containing five breakfasts and four lunches. They will also receive a fifth, hot lunch, said Ruiz.
“A lot of work goes into it,” she said. “The employees really work hard to continue to make good food.”
She said they have learned as the weekly meal distributions go on about tailoring their recipes to being kept frozen or refrigerated at students’ homes, and labeling these with reheating and preparation instructions.
Ruiz said that, after initially stricter guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which dictates the constraints of the program, a series of modifications allowed their services to broaden as the pandemic went on. For example, a parent or guardian may pick up food at the lunch distribution on behalf of their student, without the student present, and district staff do not check identification before distributing the food.
In addition, according to Ruiz, the Seamless Summer Option federal program which funds this distribution was set to expire Aug. 31, and the district was unsure for some time whether they would be able to continue it. It was extended to last through the end of 2020, and then a second extension was announced in October, saying the program will last through the end of the 2020-21 academic year.
District Superintendent Brett McFadden said he was concerned community awareness of the program had dropped, noting the district was distributing around 400 bags of food each week in the earlier months of the pandemic, and this number dropped while the county was in the “moderate” orange tier of COVID-19 risk and the district opened its campuses for hybrid instruction.
This week, all schools in the district returned to distance learning.
“Now that things are taking a turn, and we do have community spread, we want to make sure families and students know (the program) is out there,” he said.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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