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Denair Unified serves up healthy afterschool meals
Denair afterschool meals pic
Denair Middle School eighth grader Austin Richards takes advantage of a free meal on Tuesday as part of Denair Unified School Districts new at-risk afterschool food program. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal

The excitement surrounding Denair Unified School District’s new afterschool food program was exemplified on Tuesday when over 50 students piled into Denair Middle School’s cafeteria in the first 10 minutes after the bell rang for a free, healthy meal.

“Usually after school I get pretty hungry because we have lunch at 10:45 a.m. and I always want a snack,” said sixth grader Mickenna Galvan. “I thought this was a perfect way to get some free food and hang out with my friends.”

The afterschool food program, which saw its inaugural feeding frenzy on Monday, is available for any child—regardless of whether or not they are a DUSD student—under the age of 18 years old. There are no income or eligibility restrictions.

While students enjoyed pizza, salad, kiwis and carrots on Tuesday, DUSD Director of Food Services Billy Reid said that the program’s menu will change daily.

“What we are doing is basically serving a second lunch,” said Reid. “For right now, we have to offer the four components: fruits and vegetables, which are combined together into one component, meat or a meat alternate, milk and grains. However, there is a lot of room for the program to grow.”

Reid said that DUSD qualified for the newly-implemented at-risk afterschool food program, which is funded through the United States Department of Food and Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Food Program, since more than half of the children in the District’s attendance area are eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals.

Reid said that the USDA program requires the District to offer an educational or enrichment activity, which can include arts and crafts, homework assistance, life skills, remedial education or organized fitness activities. Reid said that the school is currently providing nutrition-educational material that will help teach children how to make better food choices. 

The program will be offered from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Denair Middle School cafeteria. For more information, call 632-7514, ext. 1243.