BY VINCENT J. ZAZUETA
It has been well documented that children who eat school meals have more nutritious diets than children who don’t, and eating a healthy diet can lead to better academic success. As a parent, if you don’t have the time or resources to prepare breakfast or lunch for your child, don’t worry. The Holtville Unified School District serves nutritious breakfast and lunch meals to all students free of charge.
“The Holtville Unified School District is a Provision 2 school district,” said Lucy Chabolla, the school district’s Food Service Director. Provision 2 is an option allowed for in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Provision 2 allows schools to serve only breakfast or lunch or both breakfast and lunch, to all students for free.
The Holtville Unified School District uses the latter model. Providing breakfast and lunch free to students, regardless of household income, reduces the stigma that school meal programs are only for under-served children kids, thus increasing student participation in the school’s free breakfast and lunch programs.
Lucy Chabolla stressed, “Our dedicated staff proudly serves up to 1000 breakfasts and 1300 lunches each day.” Besides making breakfast free, another way that the Holtville Unified School District implements Provision 2 is to offer breakfast in the classroom. Once the bell rings and students are seated, breakfast is brought into the classroom and served. This ensures that all Holtville students have the opportunity to eat breakfast.
Lupita Perez, the principal at Finley Elementary School emphasized the importance of students coming to school on time. She said, “Breakfast is served from 8:00 am to 8:20 am and breakfast is not served after 8:30 am.” She also noted that “The school lunch schedule is staggered; the lower grades are served first and the upper grades follow.” Any student who participates in the ASES after school program is provided with an afternoon snack.”
In addition to the cafeteria food, Finley Elementary school also provides the students with an open salad bar that is “not only popular with the students, but is popular with the teachers as well,” commented Perez. The food service staff “will accommodate students with food allergies” said Chabolla. Parents children with food allergies “need to request and fill out a district form that requires a doctor’s signature,” noted Chabolla.
Lucy Chabolla and her staff are committed to serving healthy and nutritious meals within the strict nutritional guidelines approved by the USDA.
Vincent J. Zazueta is a Garden Based Community Educator and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Systems and Environment from UC Davis and a Secondary Science Teaching Credential from San Diego State University. He lives in El Centro and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.