BAKERSFIELD, California — More students will receive government-sponsored meals this year. The state law requires universal meal service for all kids in “high poverty” schools.
A large number of the schools fall into this category in Bakersfield, according to government standards. After all, there is a lot of poverty in the Central Valley. So, it makes sense that many kids in Bakersfield and the surrounding area would meet the national standard for poverty.
Free or reduced-price meals already existed in schools, but a new state law taking effect this school year requires that schools extend the free service to all kids at a poor school, regardless of their family’s specific financial situation.
Free meal applications at those schools will be scrapped, which officials say will save time. Therefore, the service will go out to all students. This may mean that the schools wind up wasting a lot of food, but that’s worth it to feed all of the kids that we can.
Bakersfield is Happy to Serve Food at Its Schools
School officials who spoke to the local news representative were happy to offer the food. They noted some students are not fed well at home.
Kids pay better attention and perform better after eating something nutritious, said Jennifer Davis, the food services coordinator for the Kern High School District.
Davis oversees the preparation and delivery of approximately 16,000 meals a day across the district.
From a financial perspective, individual schools and districts will actually benefit from increasing the number of meals served. The federal government reimburses school kitchens for meals served to low-income students, who sometimes don’t pay for the food they eat anyway.
Lunch costs $2.90 per day in the high school district. Breakfast is even cheaper than lunch, coming in at a measly $1.65 per day. That’s a tiny price to pay to keep kids fed.