Children are getting a free lunch, and a free breakfast too. The saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” doesn’t apply to the Guadalupe school district, where school aged children can get the first two meals of the day for free five days a week. So yes, there is such a thing for these children as a free lunch; and a free breakfast too.
The Guadalupe Union School District’s Summer Food Program is available to supplement children’s meals when school is not in session.
The USDA developed the Summer Food Service Program, which oversees the food distribution in Guadalupe. It’s funded by the USDA and operated through the California Department of Education. School age children are provided nutritious meals during the summer months, when they are not in school.
“It’s seamless to go from the lunch program during school into this program in the summer,” said Matt Dwyer, director of nutrition services for the school district.
Dwyer helped get the program going around a dozen years ago. The USDA and the state Department of Education support it because approximately 92 percent of the district’s students are from low-income families and qualify for free or reduced-cost meals during the school year.
Mary Buren Elementary has around 200 students attending its Summer Academy, so it’s a short walk for them to get fed. One of the neat things about the Summer Food Program is it’s open to kids throughout the community, many of whom flock to the school each day for lunch from surrounding neighborhoods.
“That means all the kids 18 and under can come here for a free meal,” Dwyer said. “We do mostly scratch cooking and purchase all produce locally.”
Romaine lettuce, watermelon, broccoli and strawberries are regularly purchased from local growers.
A typical lunch consists of a ham and cheese hoagie, watermelon, green salad, baked chips and milk. Breakfast ranges from yogurt, fruit, muffins, cereal, hard-boiled eggs and milk.