By Nancy Morales, Reporter
Students might ask, “Are meals in the school free?
The answer – plain and simple – is yes.
Those free meals, thanks to the government, include a Grab and Go Breakfast as well as free lunches for all students.
“The U.S. government passed several funding bills to help Americans when the Covid-19 Pandemic hit,” said Kris Spellman, director of Child Nutrition for Grand Island Public Schools.
Spellman interacts with students and asks them what their favorite school meals are to improve school lunches.
“I really enjoy the group of managers and support staff we have – we are like family,” she said.
Every school in the nation has been provided with funding for free meals to all children regardless of income.
Spellman explained that COVID-19 is the cause of food shortages and they don’t have enough people to produce the products that schools provide like they did in previous years.
She explained that it took a while for food to be sent to Senior High due to low staffing.
“I believe this is different from our purchasing challenges early in the pandemic, where I feel that the actual food product availability was the cause of the shortage; not the labor to produce them,” she said.
Spellman said that last year’s Grab and Go stations were very convenient for students.
“Although it was a challenge getting the right kinds of foods that were needed to meet the regulations, the packaging was convenient and easy to use,” she said.
Spellman said that the Nutrition Department does not receive any funding from the general fund, which pays for things like teacher’s salaries, classroom supplies, books and more.
She said that they do receive funding from the Federal Government through a USDA program as long as they offer a nutritious meal including: protein, whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
“We receive a reimbursement of about $4 for each meal we serve. We have to spend that $4 on purchasing the food for the meal, paying for staff labor to prepare and serve the meal, and we also have to use these funds to pay for any new equipment we may need.”
She added that the COVID-19 virus/pandemic has caused the school lunch program to change a lot in recent years, but on a positive note each student now has the opportunity of having free lunch.
Spellman said she believed that this change can be a good thing for students with low income or that need help paying for school lunch.