Free School Lunches Not Limited To Families In Financial Need
Lisa Baker remembers feeling self conscious about picking up free school lunches for her two children. And it wasn’t because she couldn’t afford meals for her kids.
“I didn’t want to be judged by someone who was in need. So I slowed down and drove away. I didn’t pick it up. I could have, but I didn’t,” Baker said.
After learning several reasons why she should be picking up those meals regardless of income, Baker set out to inform other families by writing a blog called 5 Reasons to Pick Up the Free Food From Your Child’s School District.
“The whole article just exploded and I didn’t expect it to be shared and used so many times,” she said.
The blog highlights that families should pick up school lunches because most districts like Osseo and Robbinsdale are reimbursed by the federal government on a per meal basis. This means the fewer they feed, the less they get.
Jeff Ansorge, the nutrition services director of the Osseo school district confirms this information.
“Anytime a child eats, it benefits the department because it brings revenue to the department. We use it to pay our food cost, labor cost and operating costs,” Ansorge explained.
However, he emphasizes that that’s not the reason why schools provide meals.
“The point of us serving during COVID-19 is really to provide meals to communities, families and students for those kids that need food,” Ansorge said.
Baker mentioned that school meals save parents the stress of feeding their kids during these tough times.
“It has saved me a lot of time and hassle. So instead of cooking or trying to figure out what to feed them, I can focus more on helping my kids learn,” she said.
While Baker’s blog states that unclaimed school lunches become waste, Ansorge said they never had that problem at the Osseo school district.
“We keep record of how many meals we do on a given day. That helps us project for the coming days and next week. The amount of food they prep really goes to use and doesn’t sit around,” Ansorge said.
He added that the number of meals have doubled since the start of the curbside school lunches.
“Last week, we had around 10,000 individuals. One bag of meal is breakfast and lunch,” he said.
Baker hopes to encourage families to use the free lunch program, but not to take advantage of it.
“Take it only if you can use it or share it,” Baker said. “I want school districts to provide for those who need it, but I don’t want school districts overwhelmed.”