Written by Brian Hoyle
During lunch, the long lines at the G-wing are hard to miss. These lines lead to pizza, sandwiches, burritos, and more food that is free to every M-A student.
For many M-A students, school was their main source of breakfast and lunch, but, when the school closed in March of 2020, students no longer had access to this resource. In response, the District offered free food to all M-A students and children under 18, beginning in September 2020. That was big for a district that served 4,500 students in May 2020 alone, of which 40% were eligible for free meals before the pandemic.
This was available for the whole 2020-21 academic year, and, in the summer of 2021, California legislators extended free lunch programs to every public school student in the state. This meant that the six million children enrolled in California public schools, regardless of economic or legal status, became eligible for free meal programs.
Nicholas Muys, one of M-A’s Assistant Vice Principals, said, “We purchase the food at the district level. We have a Head of Food Services, who oversees the purchasing, or importing the [purchased food]. We have a central kitchen that [deals] with preparation, the food is distributed to the sites, and the sites either rewarm or prepare the food otherwise for the service.”
He explained, “The amount of food that we get is determined by a chart of how many students are getting food on a daily basis, on average. We order amounts of food that match those numbers, and that is the amount of food we procure. The kitchen lead, rightly so, is keen on not wasting any food, so we order what we think is an appropriate amount…. I know we have had supply issues with pizza running out, for example, but we’ll always have food that can be served, so no students should go through [school] without having something to eat.”
“There’s a program launching in 2022-23…, referred to as a Universal Meals Program, and the goal is to provide free food for students in California schools,” Muys added, referring to a section of a larger bill passed by Governor Newsom in July that requires and expands the free meals programs for schools. “That is something I applaud the state for doing and continuing to commit to, because every student learns best when they are fed.”