For some students, a free school breakfast and lunch isn’t enough. So the Palm Beach County School District is expanding its offerings to serve supper as well to students in afterschool programs.
The district gave the program a test drive last year at four elementary schools. By year’s end, those kitchens had served nearly 50,000 meals, paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the state’s Department of Health’s Bureau of Child Care Food Programs.
That success encouraged district officials this fall to expand the “afterschool meals program” to another 16 schools. The meals are free to children enrolled in afterschool programs on these campuses.
The goal was to target schools with high poverty rates – officials chose schools where more than 90 percent of the students qualified for the federal free- and reduced-price meal program, said the district’s food service director Allison Monbleau.
“That’s where the greatest need is for hunger, so we wanted to go out to those schools first,” Monbleau said.
Like other meal programs, the menu is prescribed by government to include meat or an alternative, a grain, a fruit, a vegetable and milk. Right now the meals are cold items. Monbleau was hoping to pilot a hot meal service in one of the schools eventually, but so far, the logistics have been challenging, she said. The meal is served during after school hours which can run as late as 6 p.m.